|Giant sequoia cone opening and dropping seeds|
|General Sherman, Giant sequoia,|
largest tree on earth
The sequoia is the largest tree species in the world, but there is nothing giant about their cones - sequoia cones are only 4-7 cm long, and the seeds that fall out of them are tiny.
The seed is dark brown, 4-5 mm long and 1 mm broad, with a 1 mm wide yellow-brown wing along each side. So small is this little packet of potential that it barely covers the head of the loon on the loony (Canadian one dollar coin).
The cones mature in 18-20 months, though they typically remain green and closed for up to 20 years; each cone has 30-50 spirally arranged scales, with several seeds on each scale giving an average of 230 seeds per cone. When the cones mature they turn brown, and before they open they look like little turds.
Some seed is shed when the cone scales open during hot weather in late summer. Seeds are also dispersed when the cone dries out from fire and/or insect damage.
|Giant sequoia along Gorge Road, Victoria|
Giant sequoia grow to an average height of 50-85 m (150-280 ft) and 5-7 m (16-23 ft) in diameter, so don't plant them too close to your house. Record trees have reached 93.6 m (307 ft) in height, and 8.85 m (29 ft) in diameter. The oldest known Giant Sequoia based on ring count is 3,200 years old.
The oldest sequoia in the Victoria region, brought north as saplings by early settlers from California, is probably not even 200 years old. But that does not mean that they are not big. Image what they will be like if they are allowed to live another 3000 years.
Find out more about viewing Giant sequoia in the Victoria area here.