Mother of the Forest

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The Mother of the Forest (667 BCE – 1854 CE) was an ancient and huge Sequoiadendron tree. The tree lived in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern central California, United States.[1] The dead tree's remains are within the Calaveras Grove of Big Trees State Park, in Calaveras County, California.


Stereoscopic photograph of the Mother of the Forest, taken by Robert N. Dennis

The tree was said to stretch 321 feet (98 m) into the air (which is unlikely, as this would make it 35 feet taller than the tallest tree on the list of largest giant sequoias), with a girth of 90 feet (27 m) at ground level. It was the largest of 92 giant sequoias growing in the valley in 1852 when a man named George Gale discovered the massive tree.[2] In 1854 he had the bark stripped from the trunk.[1] Gale named the massive tree the "Mother of the Forest" before he sent men to strip the tree of its bark. Once the bark was removed, the tree did not survive for long. In 1908, a fire that swept through the area burned away much of what was left of the tree.[3]

The massive tree had thick bark, 2 feet (0.61 m) thick in some spots, which Gale had stripped. Gale toured with the bark, showing it off to crowds.

Present day[edit]

To this day, what is left of Mother of the Forest stands as a large fire-blackened snag along the loop trail through the North Grove, at the far end of the loop. Saw marks made when the bark was cut away are still visible on the trunk, which stands over 100 feet tall. Gale sent samples of the tree to foresters in the east where it was discovered to be 2,520 years old.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


Specific citations
  1. ^ a b USFS (1900). Report on the Big Trees of California. Original from the University of Michigan: Govt. Print. Off. p. 13. 
  2. ^ Hartesveldt, Richard J. (1975). THE GIANT SEQUOIA OF THE SIERRA NEVADA. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. p. 3. 
  3. ^ Hawken, Paul (2007). Blessed unrest: how the largest movement in the world came into being, and why no one saw it coming. Viking. ISBN 978-0143113652. 
General references
  • Hutchings, J.M., 1886. In the Heart of the Sierras: page 223.
  • Palmquist, Peter E., and Thomas R. Kailbourn. Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840–1865. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2000.