How Tall is the Tallest Tree on Earth?

Jason Marshall, PhD,
August 30, 2011

On a recent trip up the California and Oregon coasts, I was lucky enough to walk amongst some of the most ancient and gargantuan living organisms: coast redwoods (aka sequoia sempervirens). And when I say ancient and gargantuan, I mean it. Coast redwoods live from 1,000 to 2,000 years (or maybe even more) and are the tallest living things on the planet.

Exactly how tall? Well, the largest specimen, known as Hyperion, rises to 379.3 feet. Just to give a bit of perspective: 379.3 feet is a little over 126 yards. Which means that this tree is a few yards longer than an American football field measured from the back of one end zone to the other.

So yeah, this tree is really Really REALLY tall. Where is it?

Hyperion was discovered in August of 2006 by two hikers somewhere in Northern California. But where exactly? Dunno! The precise location has been kept secret to discourage visitors who could put the tree and its surrounding ecosystem in jeopardy—too much foot traffic isn’t good for a tree’s roots, among other potential problems. At only 800 years old, Hyperion is just a baby, and it’d be nice to let it live out a long and natural life.

If you’re interested in reading more about Hyperion, the always eloquent Robert Krulwich (from the awesome Radiolab podcast) wrote a great piece about the tree in his "Krulwich Wonders" blog.

And if you ever get a chance to see and walk amongst these magnificent trees—maybe not Hyperion, but perhaps some of its slightly smaller siblings—don’t miss it. They don’t disappoint.

Tall Tree image courtesy of Shutterstock