What is the Biggest Tree in the World?

Let’s be frank: we love records. Seeing an athlete jumping higher than his opponents, seeing the highest skyscraper humans built, and so on. But we also love records broken by Nature. In this article, we will talk about those records Nature broke. Indeed, I will tell you what is the biggest tree in the world.

General Sherman is the biggest tree in the world by volume. Located in Sequoia National Park, it is 52,500 cubic feet (or 1,487 cubic meters) in volume. General Sherman is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which is a tree species in the western Sierra Nevada, California.

Here are some helpful resources you will encounter during this article.

Close-up on General Sherman: the biggest tree in the world

Right, General Sherman is the biggest tree in the world. But now, you probably want to learn more about it. First, here is a picture of it. If you need to scroll down a lot to keep reading, it’s totally normal. That will show you how huge this tree is.

the largest tree in the world
General Sherman, the biggest tree in the world by volume. Picture from General Sherman, Wikipedia.

How old is General Sherman?

Giving the exact age of a tree is not easy. As a child, you may have played the game of counting the circles of a cut trunk to estimate the age of a tree.

For trees such as General Sherman, scientists do not use the same methods. In order to know how old General Sherman is, scientists take small samples of the tree and analyze it. The results they found for General Sherman are very impressive.

General Sherman is about 2,000 years old. You could think that this is very old, but in fact, it is not. And this is what is astonishing. Basically, General Sherman is a middle-aged giant sequoia.

Some of his friends in the park are estimated to be more than 3,000 years old. This makes General Sherman a young tree compared to them.

Finally, compared to other species, General Sherman, the biggest tree in the world, is pretty young. The oldest tree in the world was Prometheus, located in the Wheeler Peak, Nevada. It was cut down by Donald Rusk Currey back in 1964. Prometheus was at least 4,862 years old.

The thing about dead trees is that we can really verify their age, whereas we cannot really do it for alive trees. Maybe in a thousand years, if General Sherman dies, we will, in fact, realize that it is way older (or not).

Is General Sherman still growing?

Knowing that General Sherman is relatively young definitely sparks my interest. Just like a young athlete in his early twenties, that means that General Sherman could still beat records.

Well, in order to know if that’s the case, we need to know whether General Sherman is still growing or not. I did some research on that point, and I found very interesting pieces of answers on Visit California, a local travel agency for California. Here is what is said in the article about General Sherman.

The General Sherman Tree measures 103/31-meters around, and soars 275 feet/84 meters into the blue Sierra sky—and it’s still growing. Every year it adds enough wood to make another 60-foot/18-meter-tall tree.

Read on visitcalifornia.com

That answer is definitely exciting. The more you wait to visit Sequoia National Park, the more impressed you will be when you finally visit it.

Where can I see General Sherman, the biggest tree in the world?

As mentioned previously, General Sherman is located in Sequoia National Park, California. I will guide you there with Google Maps screenshot, so you can easily see where it is. First, if you want to read more about this incredible National Park, I recommend that you read the article about Sequoia National Park, which goes much more in detail about the trees.

How to get to Sequoia National Park?

google maps screenshot focusing on sequoia national park
Here is a Google Maps screenshot focusing on Sequoia National Park.

As you can see on that screenshot, Sequoia National Park is a bit in the middle of nowhere. Basically, it is 4 hours away from San Francisco and Los Angeles. And it is 6 hours away from Las Vegas (because there is no direct away from there).

How to get to General Sherman inside Sequoia National Park?

sequoia national park map
Here is a map of Sequoia National Park. Picture from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

Well, I am not sure this map is helping you. When I first saw it, I was totally lost. I could not find General Sherman. In fact, it is not that hard to find it. Simply look right in the middle of the map, a little down, and look for green text. You will easily find it.

Then, you can also find visitor centers and everything else you need on that map. Be careful, car parks are usually full at around noun. If you want to know everything you need to do before visiting Sequoia National Park, I recommend that you read this article from the National Park Service.

Is Sequoia National Park free?

If that sparked your interest, you may want to visit Sequoia National Park. Then, there is the question of the price. Does it cost money to see the biggest tree species in the world?

The park entrance fee is $35 for private vehicles and $20 for individuals on foot or on bike, and is valid for seven days in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The National Parks pass ($80) allows unlimited entry into all national park areas for one year.

Read on Wikitravel.

The research led me to an article on Wikitravel. I quoted the interesting part for you. So, it is not free and it does cost money to visit Sequoia National Park.

Height vs Volume: what about the tallest tree in the world?

For now, we only talked about General Sherman, which is the biggest tree in the world by volume. However, when you asked Google to give you results about the biggest tree in the world, maybe you were not talking about the largest one in volume. Maybe you were talking about the tallest one.

If this is the case, this paragraph is for you. I will tell you about the tallest tree in the world. So, what is the tallest tree in the world?

The tallest tree in the world is Hyperion. It is located in Redwood National and State Parks. Hyperion is 379.7 feet (115.7 m) tall, which makes it way taller than General Sherman. Indeed, General Sherman is only 275 feet (84 m) tall.

Hyperion’s discovery

Hyperion was only discovered in 2006 by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. They verified the height and it blew their mind. In fact, it surprised them so much that they took a huge decision.

Hyperion’s localization is a secret. All we know is that it is located in a remote place of Redwood National and State Parks. However, we have no idea where it exactly is.

If you really want to see it, there are some videos on the web or hikers finding Hyperion, or some itineraries to get there. But this is not for everyone. The hike is strenuous and there is no path to get to it. Also, I do not recommend to make this tree a place to visit, because it may destroy the incredible ecosystem around it.

What does Hyperion look like?

Once again, since Hyperion is such a mysterious tree, there are not a lot of pictures of it. Indeed, pictures could reveal where it is! Hence, there is no free photo I can show you for that tree. You will have to do your own research to see it. There is a shot from Michael Nichols, a photographer of National Geographic which you will easily find on the web.

If you want to have an idea of what Hyperion looks like, here are some pieces of information that will help you. Hyperion is a coast redwood, which is a tree species we do have photographs of. Here is what it looks like.

low angle photo of a tall brown tree
A coast redwood standing along his brothers. Picture from Dave Hoefler.

Coast redwoods are part of the sequoia family. Their scientific name is Sequoia sempervirens, and you can find them in Redwood National and State Parks.

Redwood National and State Parks, the other place to see the biggest trees in the world

Redwood Forest is another place to walk along with giant trees. Giant sequoias and coast redwoods do look like each other, but the overall look of those two places is different.

Basically, whereas Sequoia National Park is really great for tourists, Redwood National and State Parks could be better for hikers.

How to get to Redwood National and State Parks?

Just like Sequoia National Park, Redwood National and State Parks is a bit in the middle of nowhere. It is maybe even worse. Located in the North of Carolina and almost on the coast, it is 6 hours away from San Fransisco and Sacramento.

If you are coming from Las Vegas or Los Angeles, this will be really far away, and you should consider staying for several days there.

Google Maps itinerary from San Francisco to Redwood National and State Parks.

I hope that this article was helpful and that you got all the information you wanted to. I also hope that you now differentiate size and volume, which is key when it comes to ranking trees.

Indeed, just like for athletes’ records, there are also categories for trees. Now you know that General Sherman is the largest tree in the world by volume and that it keeps growing. You also know that Hyperion is the tallest tree in the world, but that you will probably never be able to see it in your life.

I leave you with a National Geographic video about photographing huge trees, which is really well made.

See you somewhere in the world!

National Geographic video where the protagonists take a picture of “The President”. Video from National Geographic.

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