General Sherman (tree)

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General Sherman
General Sherman Tree 2013.jpg
General Sherman is the largest single stem tree in the world.
General Sherman is located in California
General Sherman
General Sherman
SpeciesGiant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Coordinates36°34′54″N 118°45′05.5″W / 36.58167°N 118.751528°W / 36.58167; -118.751528Coordinates: 36°34′54″N 118°45′05.5″W / 36.58167°N 118.751528°W / 36.58167; -118.751528
Height83.8 m (275 ft)
Diameter11 m (36 ft)
Volume of trunk1,487 m3 (52,500 cu ft)
Date seeded700 BC – 300 BC

General Sherman is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, in the U.S. state of California. By volume, it is the largest known living single-stem tree on Earth.[1] It is estimated to be around 2,200 to 2,700 years old.

While General Sherman is the largest currently living tree, it is not the largest historically recorded tree. The Lindsey Creek tree, with more than 90,000 cubic feet (2,500 cubic meters)[2] almost twice the volume of General Sherman, was reported felled by a storm in 1905.[3][4] Another larger coast redwood, the Crannell Creek Giant, a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) cut down in the mid-1940s near Trinidad, California, is estimated to have been 15–25% larger than the General Sherman Tree by volume.


Looking upward from the base of General Sherman located in California's Sequoia National Park

The General Sherman Tree was named after the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. The official story, which may be apocryphal, claims the tree was named in 1879 by naturalist James Wolverton, who had served as a lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under Sherman.[5]

Seven years later, in 1886, the land came under the control of the Kaweah Colony, a utopian socialist community whose economy was based on logging. Noting the pivotal role that Sherman had played in the Indian Wars and his forced relocation of native American tribes, they renamed the tree in honor of Karl Marx.[6] However, the community was disbanded in 1892, primarily as a result of the establishment of Sequoia National Park, and the tree reverted to its previous name.

In 1931, following comparisons with the nearby General Grant tree, General Sherman was identified as the largest tree in the world. One result of this process was that wood volume became widely accepted as the standard for establishing and comparing the size of different trees.[1][7]

In January 2006, the largest branch on the tree (seen most commonly, in older photos, as an "L" or golf-club shape, protruding from about a quarter of the way down the trunk) broke off. There were no witnesses to the incident, and the branch – larger than most tree trunks; diameter over 2 m (6.6 ft) and length over 30 m (98 ft) – smashed part of the perimeter fence and cratered the pavement of the surrounding walkway. The breakage is not believed to be indicative of any abnormalities in the tree's health, and may even be a natural defense mechanism against adverse weather conditions.[8]

On September 16, 2021, the tree was wrapped in aluminum foil to protect it from the KNP complex fires.[9][10]


A child standing under the tree.

While it is the largest tree known, the General Sherman Tree is neither the tallest known living tree on Earth (that distinction belongs to the Hyperion tree, a Coast redwood),[11] nor is it the widest (both the largest cypress and largest baobab have a greater diameter), nor is it the oldest known living tree on Earth (that distinction belongs to a Great Basin bristlecone pine).[12] With a height of 83.8 meters (275 ft), a diameter of 7.7 m (25 ft), an estimated bole volume of 1,487 m3 (52,513 cu ft), and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years,[13][14][15] it is nevertheless among the tallest, widest, and longest-lived of all trees on the planet.

Height above base[1] 274.9 ft 83.8 m
Circumference at ground[1] 102.6 ft 31.3 m
Maximum diameter at base[1] 36.5 ft 11.1 m
Diameter 4.50 ft (1.37 m) above height point on ground[16] 25.1 ft 7.7 m
Girth Diameter 60 ft (18 m) above base[1] 17.5 ft 5.3 m
Diameter 180 ft (55 m) above base[1] 14.0 ft 4.3 m
Diameter of largest branch[1] 6.8 ft 2.1 m
Height of first large branch above the base[1] 130.0 ft 39.6 m
Average crown spread[1] 106.5 ft 32.5 m
Estimated bole volume[16] 52,508 cu ft 1,487 m3
Estimated mass (wet) (1938)[17] 2,105 short tons 1,910 t
Estimated bole mass (1938)[17] 2,472,000 lb 1,121 t

See also[edit]

General Sherman in winter.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The General Sherman Tree". Sequoia National Park. U.S. National Park Service. 1997-03-27. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  2. ^ "535,000 board feet of merchantable timber" Largest Tree Ever Recorded (UBC Botanical Garden, 2010-02-04)
  3. ^ Vaden, Mario D. "Crannell Creek Giant".
  4. ^ Landmark Trees. "Crannell Creek Giant".[dead link]
  5. ^ Tweed, William (September 26, 2014). "A famous name and a mystery". Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  6. ^ Miller, Daegan (2018). This Radical Land; A natural history of American dissent. University of Chicago Press.
  7. ^ Van Pelt, Robert. "The Trees". Forest Giants. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11.
  8. ^ Tweed, William (2006-02-07). "Sequoias designed to last a couple of thousand years". Visalia Times Delta.
  9. ^ "California fires: General Sherman and other sequoias given blankets". BBC News. 2021-09-17. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  10. ^ Dunlap, Keith (2021-09-18). "World's largest tree wrapped in foil to protect it from California wildfires". KSAT. Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  11. ^ Earle, CJ (2011). "Sequoia sempervirens". The Gymnosperm Database. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  12. ^ Earle, CJ (2011). "Pinus longaeva". The Gymnosperm Database. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  13. ^ Stephenson, N.L. (January 2002). "Estimated Ages of Some Large Giant Sequoias: General Sherman Keeps Getting Younger". Nature Notes. Yosemite Association. 2. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2011-05-03.
  14. ^ Martin, Glen (2006-09-07). "World's tallest trees". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  15. ^ Records, Guinness World (2007). Guinness World Record 2008, World's Tallest Tree. ISBN 978-1-904994-19-0. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  16. ^ a b Flint, Wendell D. (1987). To Find the Biggest Tree. Sequoia National History Association. p. 94.
  17. ^ a b Fry, Walter; White, John Roberts (1942). Big Trees. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804716383.

External links[edit]