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Sequoia Giant sequoias are huge trees with thick, tawny red bark, and are native to California. They are not the world’s tallest trees – that prize goes to their cousins, the coastal redwoods, the largest being 115.61 meters (379.3 feet) high. However, sequoias have wider trunks, up to 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter, and grow to almost 91 meters (300 feet) high. This means they have the largest mass of any tree.

They were first “discovered” in 1852 (by white people; Native Americans would of course have already known about them) at Calaveras Grove in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A hunter stumbled across them as he was chasing after a bear. Later, other sequoia groves were found further south in what are now the Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Originally sequoias only grew in these few locations on the slopes of the Sierra Nevadas, but have since been planted and grown successfully in Europe.

Within 18 months of their discovery, Calaveras Grove had become a tourist destination. One of the big trees was felled and a bowling alley built along its trunk, as well as a hotel and saloon nearby. The hundred or so trees were given names, including Mother of the Forest, Father of the Forest, the Three Graces, the Old Bachelor and the Orphans. Today Calaveras Grove still has a Giant Stump you can stand on, as well as “Chip of the Old Block,” a cross-section of a sequoia that people have their photos taken in front of.