Animals & Nature

Meet General Sherman: The World’s Oldest and Biggest Standing Tree

If you happen to be in California anytime in the near future, we have one “highly” recommended destination you should hit up. Seriously, you should put this place “high” on your priority list. If you go to the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park, you’ll meet “General Sherman”, the biggest tree in California, and possibly in the world.

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Let’s look at some figures quickly to give you an idea of just how big this bad boy is. It’s about 275 feet high, and the diameter of its base is about 37 feet wide. In terms of volume, it’s trunk has a volume of about 52,500 cubic feet, with another 10,000 cubic feet accounting for its branches. Wow, this thing is monstrous. Oh, and it’s about 2000 years old!

Other Big Trees

In some ways, the jury is still out with regards to the biggest trees in the world. But it seems like General Sherman is the biggest. There are some other big boys in the same park in California though. One is called The President, and another is called General Grant. These trees are all of the giant sequoia species. Experts say that there was a bigger tree, about 15% – 20% larger than General Sherman to be more precise, but unfortunately, it was cut down during the 1940s.

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Image: CNN International

There was once another huge tree, also in California, that some experts say was bigger than General Sherman, but it was felled during a storm in 1905. When it happened, the Humbolt Times-Standard reported it, but no one measured it before its wood was used, so we can’t know for sure.

A Little Bit of History

General Sherman was given its name in 1879 by naturalist James Wolverton, who served under General Sherman (the actual person) in a cavalry unit. About ten years later, the area where the tree lives came under the control of the Kaweah Colony. They were – more or less – hardcore socialists, so they decided to rename the tree after Karl Marx (what a surprise). The community soon thereafter disbanded, and the tree’s name was switched back to its original name.

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Image: TripAdvisor

Now General Sherman (the tree, not the person) stands tall in the middle of the national park and has become a great destination for tourists or other nature enthusiasts. One problem though, which isn’t really a big deal in the grander scheme of things, is that Sherman, and other trees like it, are so big that you can’t easily take pictures of them! Usually, we see some sort of shot of the base, or a shot looking up from the base.

Interestingly, some naturalists have undertaken a project to photo-document The President, the second-biggest tree in the park. It took them 126 shots, but they managed to get a full picture of the entire tree. We hope you enjoyed the article, and maybe some time we’ll see you in Cali!