Classified as Sequoioideae, there are a few different types of redwood trees. These iconic beauties are technically members of the cypress tree family, but redwoods make up some of the largest and heaviest trees on our planet. Whether you want to plant a redwood tree on your own property or simply want to learn more about these gentle giants, let’s go over all of the different types of redwood trees now.
Are There Only 3 Different Types of Redwood Trees?
Technically speaking, there are only 3 different types of redwood trees. While many other species once existed on our planet, only 3 types of trees survive today. However, the sequoia species as a whole is ancient, dating as far back as the Jurassic period, or roughly 200 million years ago. As the planet cooled through multiple ice ages, many sequoia species could not survive. However, 3 distinct types of redwood trees exist today, inspiring tourists and locals alike with their beauty and height!
Are Redwood Trees Endangered?
Currently, all remaining redwood tree species or types are indeed endangered. Their natural habitats are also extremely limited, with two redwood trees growing in California or along the west coast and the final redwood tree type native to China. However, all three types of redwood trees are commercially cultivated and planted around the world, thriving in locations that offer plenty of moisture and cloud cover.
Despite their abnormal resistance to fire damage, many redwood trees were lost in recent California wildfire seasons. In fact, there was an estimated 15% loss of redwood trees in 2020-2021, potentially leading to an eventual adjustment of their current endangered status.
Types of Redwood Trees
Living for thousands of years and capable of growing hundreds of feet tall, here are the three different types of redwood trees and where you can see them in their natural habitats!
Native to the coastline of Northern California and Oregon, the coast redwood is considered the tallest tree on earth. In fact, these trees are also considered to be some of the oldest specimens too, with some coast redwoods estimated at 2,000 years old. The coast redwood tree averages anywhere from 100-200 feet tall, with some specimens reaching well over 350 feet!
The best place to view coast redwoods has to be in the Redwood National and State Park Complex, located in northernmost California. You can view other types of redwoods in this complex as well, with old-growth forests bringing in thousands of tourists annually.
Considered the shortest redwood tree still living, the dawn redwood is special for other reasons. Native to China, dawn redwoods average 50-100 feet tall, much smaller than coast redwoods and giant sequoias. However, dawn redwoods are unique in that they are deciduous. This means that their leaves or foliage changes color in the fall, often sporting shades of orange or red to match their bark!
If you ever find yourself in Pizhou, Jiangsu, in China, this location has roughly 1 million dawn redwood trees to view. Try visiting in the fall so that you can see these trees change colors with the seasons!
While coast redwoods are the tallest redwood trees, giant sequoias are some of the densest and widest. Native to central California and the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, giant sequoias are revered and respected. These trees average 150 feet tall but are capable of growing much taller. The diameter of the giant sequoia averages roughly 20 feet across, leading to extremely heavy specimens, despite giant sequoia wood being fairly brittle as these trees age.
Located in Tulare County, California, the Sequoia National Park is, naturally, one of the best places to see giant sequoias. The General Sherman tree is located here and is largely considered the most massive tree in the world.
Are There Extinct Types of Redwood Trees?
Yes, there are several extinct types of redwood or sequoia trees. In fact, the number of extinct redwood trees is a much larger statistic compared to the 3 currently living species. Some of the extinct species of redwood trees include:
- Sequoia affinis
- Sequoia jeholensis
- Sequoia magnifica
- Sequoia langsdorfii
- Sequoia chinensis
- Sequoia dakotensis
- Sequoia portlandica
The sequoia genus of trees is special and important, given its endangered status. Planting a redwood tree on your own property may help keep this ancient species alive for centuries to come!
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- Extinction probabilities and the changing age structure of redwood forests, Available here: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/282913