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  • Writer's pictureJody Glynn Patrick

Trees from the Land of Giants?

This is a picture I took of my friend Amy, standing by the trunk of a northern California Redwood tree.

Redwood National Park in northern California is home to the tallest living organism on earth – Hyperion, a Great Redwood tree that soars a staggering 379.7 feet. (Taller than a 35-floor building!) Most of the trees here reach more than 300 feet tall, but their root system is only 6-12 foot deep. Redwoods create the strength to withstand powerful winds and floods by extending their roots more than 50 feet across the ground from the trunk, intertwining underground with the roots of nearby redwoods. This way, they help hold one another in place.

Great Redwoods such as these grow only in a narrow band of perfect elevation and climate in the far northern reaches of coastal California, where I traveled to see them. The ground is always damp here, even during California droughts. Why? The Pacific Ocean blows a continuous cool, moist wind through the area, and it's often foggy, even in the summer.

Redwoods have been around for about 240 million years, and in California for at least 20 million years. Redwoods showed up on Earth shortly after the dinosaurs – and before flowers, birds, spiders (and, of course, humans). They actually originated in a land of giants!

Why they grow so tall is still a mystery. One reason is their naturally hardy bark, which can be one foot thick. It also has tannin in it, which makes the trees resistant to disease, insect damage, rot and fire. Coast redwoods also capture more carbon dioxide (CO2) from cars and power plants than any other tree on Earth. As the climate changes, redwood forests are one of very few places where local plants and animals can survive.

Like the stars at night, the endlessness of the sea, and the majestic Rocky Mountain ranges, Redwoods are a reminder of how small we really are and how dependent on Nature we are to protect God's glories.

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