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Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'

pdq 09 Jan 17 - 11:52 AM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 12:16 PM
keberoxu 09 Jan 17 - 12:27 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 12:37 PM
robomatic 09 Jan 17 - 01:19 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 17 - 04:00 PM
Fossil 09 Jan 17 - 04:01 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM
JHW 09 Jan 17 - 04:14 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 04:37 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 04:41 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 17 - 05:14 PM
Acme 09 Jan 17 - 05:41 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 06:18 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 17 - 07:03 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 08:02 PM
frogprince 09 Jan 17 - 08:14 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 08:37 PM
leeneia 09 Jan 17 - 10:53 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jan 17 - 01:20 AM
Acme 10 Jan 17 - 01:38 AM
SPB-Cooperator 10 Jan 17 - 03:22 AM
robomatic 10 Jan 17 - 12:42 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jan 17 - 01:33 PM
Steve Shaw 10 Jan 17 - 08:05 PM
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Subject: Obit: Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: pdq
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 11:52 AM

Sad day.

California is diminished a bit.

The iconic Tunnel Tree has fallen.

It was carved out in the late 1800s.

            Pioneer tree falls


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Subject: RE: Obit: Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 12:16 PM

That's sad. I studied fossil Sequoia material from the Mesozoic and compared it with the two modern species when I was at university. Long time ago now and I can't remember if I found out anything significant! I don't think the modern species are the direct descendants of those Cretaceous ones. One stunt pulled by botany teachers in front of their classes is to charge up to the trunk of a redwood tree and give it a good punch. The bark is so soft that it can't hurt. I suppose that cutting a tunnel through the base of a tree isn't really a good idea long-term. As far as I know it's never done today.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: keberoxu
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 12:27 PM

You guys beat me to it. I thought an obit thread was in order.

It really hornswoggles me, to think that such a gigantic tree has a shallow root system -- you would think that their roots would go down halfway to magma, wouldn't you?


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 12:37 PM

It's amazing to see how shallow the root-plates of giant beech trees are when they eventually fall. That setup gives the tree much better stability when rocked by wind and enables the roots to catch and take up water over a much larger surface area even when rainfall has been light and hasn't penetrated to any depth.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: robomatic
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:19 PM

Thanks for reporting this. Fresh news to me. I 'member when the 'Old Man of the Mountains' finally fell in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As our PElect would say: "SAD!"


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:00 PM

There's a large grove of Giant Sequoias not far from us, Placer County Big Trees. By the most direct route, it's 41 miles of driving - if you don't mind driving 2 hours on steep dirt roads. It's 50 miles and 1.5 hours on paved roads. It's in the American River watershed, downhill from Lake Tahoe. It's the northernmost grove of Big Trees, and it's beautiful. We got lucky one time and visited the grove when it was full of wild azaleas in blossom. Another time, dogwoods were in blossom nearby.

The "Tunnel Tree" is in the next grove south, Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It's 117 miles south of us, a 2-1/2 hour drive. This park is well-loved, a favorite camping spot. Parts of the grove look worn out by the heavy use, but other parts are still pristine. They don't allow tunnel-cutting in Big Trees anymore.

Next comes the Tuolumne Grove, on the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park. It's 235 miles from us, a 4-hour drive. And on the south side of Yosemite is the Mariposa Grove, also about a 4-hour drive from us. A third, Merced Grove, is very small. The National Park Service takes good care of the groves in Yosemite.

So, that's it here in Northern California - five groves of Giant Sequoias (plus a few lesser-known small groves). Luckily, there are lots of groves in the central Sierra, in the watersheds of the Kings, Kaweah, and Kern Rivers.

On the other side of Fresno from Yosemite is Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, 267 miles from us, 4-1/2 hours of driving. These parks have two famous groves, Grant Grove (home of the largest trees in the world) and Giant Forest. In 2000, President Clinton declared Giant Sequoia National Monument, which includes about half of the sequoia groves currently in existence. The monument, administered by the National Forest Service, is part of Sequoia National Forest and is mostly south of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park.

I'm surprised that I know so many groves of Giant Sequoia, but I think many Northern Californians know these same groves very well. The groves are easy to get to, and the trees are lovely. We bought a Giant Sequoia tree as a seedling about 15 years ago and planted it in our yard. It's about 15 feet high now, and looks very healthy. It was tough protecting it from deer for the first several years of its life, though. We also planted three Coast Redwoods in our yard, and they're very healthy.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Fossil
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:01 PM

From a purely engineering standpoint, you can't expect to chop two-thirds of the support base out of a structure the size of a sequoia without affecting its ultimate stability when it is stressed up by high winds.

I visited it and drove our hire-car through the tunnel many years ago, but I believe that vehicle access to the tree road has been prohibited for many years, most probably on safety grounds, now justified.

Still, it was a well-known landmark and famous around the world. Sorry to hear of its demise. I wonder if local luthiers are eyeing up the trunk for guitars?


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM

I don't think there's much commercial value to Giant Sequoia wood, Fossil - may be one reason why the Big Trees have survived. In the 19th century, explorers found the Biggest Tree in the World among the sequoias, and they cut it down. They took pictures of themselves using the stump as a dance floor, and transported the trunk around the country for exhibition.
    Take all the trees, and put 'em in a tree museum
    And charge all the people a dollar-and-a-half just to see 'em.
There is a drive-through redwood tree on private property on the Avenue of the Giants on the California coast. Yeah, I paid my fee and drove through it...


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: JHW
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:14 PM

We've had holes in trees over here of course.

"Greendale Oak" – the "Methuselah of trees – unquestionably the most remarkable tree in this fine domain. In 1724 an opening was made through this tree, capable of allowing a carriage, or three horsemen abreast, to pass through.

Nottinghamshire History


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:37 PM

The Giant Sequoias are now not classified as belonging to the genus Sequoia. They are regarded as Sequoiadendron giganteum. The only "true" Sequoia is the Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, which is a tad slimmer, a bit taller still, and allegedly longer-lived.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:41 PM

They both grow very well in Devon and Cornwall, by the way. We can't quite match yours for height as yet but watch this space. In a hundred years' time I might be bragging that we're beating you!


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:14 PM

A Giant Sequoia is not a Sequoia? When did THAT change happen, Steve?

I never did think they were closely related - too many differences. The biggest things they have in common, are that they're big and they live in California.

Wikipedia says that the only other member of the genus, Sequoiadendron chaneyi of Nevada, is extinct.

And Sequoia sempivirens (Coast redwood) is the only living species of the genus Sequoia.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Acme
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:41 PM

Agreed about the [lack of] wisdom of cutting through a tree, it will weaken it. Pine put down a tap root to start with so are good for standing up in high winds, but even they default to the spreading root system after a while. I worked in forestry during and after college and used to work around huge "blow down" trees, usually at the edge of an existing clear cut and thus exposed to high winds from the side; it made it easier for them to be knocked over, tearing a huge "root wad" out of the earth around them. Very large trees laying on the forest floor are a lot of work to get around because they're so big you can't step on them to climb over, you're approaching the slope of the bole from the underside.

Western red cedar (Thujia plicata) is the giant in the Pacific Northwest and my great uncle was one of the local farmers who took out a large tree next to the old Highway 99 north of Seattle. Island Crossing rest area. After the tree was cut, well above the butt swell, they then carved a passage through for cars. It was still in place when I was a child, but after they built I-5 the stump was moved to the new rest area location.

There is a giant tree species, found in China at the beginning of the last century that was thought long extinct (found at the same time as living ginkgos, also thought extinct) called the Metasequoia glyptostrobides, or "dawn redwood." It's a deciduous tree, and is used in landscaping around the US now, it's actually pretty versatile, compared to the west coast giants.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:18 PM

Dawn redwood is a lovely tree, very popular in botanical gardens here. When I was at university in the late 60s specimens were pretty uncommon and all still quite immature. It was regarded as a very exciting discovery by us botany students. A real live living fossil. These days we also have the Wollemi pine from Australia, not discovered until 1994. We have a specimen at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The two species, giant redwood and coast redwood, have been regarded as being in different genera for decades. Their leaf structure and arrangement are quite different. They are related but not that closely. Typical of yanks, they share the plaudits for biggest and best. The giant redwood is easily biggest by bulk, in fact they are the largest individual organisms on earth. But the coast redwoods, a bit slimmer, are the tallest trees on earth and they live longer on average than giant redwoods. Not anywhere near as long as bristlecone pines, however.

I went through a phase of studying conifers at university. For my sins I did my final-year research project on the morphology of the eleven cultivars of the Leyland Cypress, a much-despised tree this end. Only two of those cultivars ever became commonly grown. Thank goodness!


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 07:03 PM

It seems to me that in the not-too-distant past, there were thought to be three species in the genus Sequoia: Sempivirens (Coast Redwood), Gigantis (Giant Sequoia), and Glyptostrobides (dawn redwood). Wikipedia rather nicely says they are three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods. Apparently, there is still a scientific connection among the three - they are in the subfamily Sequoioideae.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 08:02 PM

They are related but they are in different genera according to the botanical powers that be. What can you do! I must confess that I haven't kept up with the nuts and bolts of their classification. The dawn redwood, Metasequoia, is deciduous, unlike the other two redwoods. That's not unknown but something of an exception among conifers. Larches and the swamp cypress (Taxodium) also drop their leaves in autumn. Whether you're deciduous or evergreen isn't necessarily a big thing classification-wise. There are both deciduous and evergreen species of oak, all within the genus Quercus.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: frogprince
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 08:14 PM

Never suspected such a thing as an evergreen oak; are they largely limited to certain areas ?


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 08:37 PM

The two I know about are the holm oak, Quercus ilex and the cork oak, Quercus suber. There may be more!


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: leeneia
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 10:53 PM

It was a bad idea to cut a tunnel through the sequoia. It was also a bad idea to make a square cut.

I recall from college classes that the best shape for a tunnel is circular in cross-section. I mean that a circular tunnel will cause the least amount of cracking in the material around it.

Here's a article with pictures of tunnels.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/design/g266/4343590/

Note that most of them are either circular or arched with a flat bed on the bottom for travelling on. That was probably a compromise.

As you go about, notice how many square openings (such as windows) in brick or stucco buildings have cracks coming out of the corners.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 01:20 AM

Here in the Sierra Foothills, we have an evergreen "interior live oak," Quercus wislizeni.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Acme
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 01:38 AM

There are lots of trees in the "Live Oak" category, they don't drop leaves all at once but do generally shed a lot in the late winter though there are already replacements there, so the tree is never bare. Scroll down for a list of varieties called "live oak."

I just took a wonderful and rather deep plunge through Wikipedia and various links to see where some of the classifications have ended up. When I took botany and forestry classes in the 1970s the oaks were still considered a sub group of Elms, but no more. And other changes have occurred, with research and RNA or other genetic readings, I'm sure.

Metasequoia isn't exactly like the sequoia, as Steve pointed out, they are deciduous. I had poor luck getting one established in the front yard (I know know what happened, it was rootbound and I didn't get it to ever establish because of that - now I plant trees much differently and almost always successfully). I have a couple of baldcypress in the yard, also deciduous.

Bristlecone pine are trees with a story - the US Forest Service, years ago, found one they thought was the oldest and some idiot cut it down to count the rings. Since then they've found an older one and it's hands off! There are other very old plants in the world, I think the creosote bush (Larrea tridentata, found from the American Southwest down through Central and into South America) grows in such a way that there is a ring of plants, all genetically the same plant. See King Clone for more information about them. (They smell wonderful when the air is moist or after a rain).

I would love to know more about how the Wollemi pine was discovered so recently. I took a detour down that Araucariaceae taxonomic line and see that the Norfolk Island Pine is a relative. And another branch leads into the "monkey puzzle" trees that came from South America (they grow well in the Seattle area so I saw many as a kid - they're a tree you would never mess with more than once!)


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 03:22 AM

Is this an opportunity to sell commemoration pieces of the tree to raise funding for conservation and the environment?


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: robomatic
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 12:42 PM

leeneia:
Square openings allow concentration of stress at the corners, hence the cracks. Sometimes it can't be avoided as mankind loves right angles. Best stress story is when the British launched the first commercial turbojet air service in the early 50s using the De Havilland Comet airliner. In their first year of use they began crashing, the first crashed in deep water so they had to fetch the pieces up and reconstruct the plane. Turned out the jets flew so high they pressurized the passenger section and the pressurization cycles during use caused the square windows to crack at the corners and the fuselages to burst. The Americans either didn't make that error or learned from the Comet's mistakes and went into service with round windows with Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s. It was a textbook case of "second mouse gets the cheese."

Stress fractures at sharp corners or along the ends of cracks are why a crack in plexiglass or sheet metal can be mitigated by drilling a hole at the end to forestall propagation.

Back to trees. I'm a tree lover of the tree hugger persuasion and one of the grandest trees I've ever seen is the banyan, a grand example, but far from the largest, is in San Diego.


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 01:33 PM

The "world's largest tree" (most massive) is said to be located somewhere in the Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park. But the National Park Service will not say which tree is the one, or where it's located.

The "world's tallest tree" is a Coast Redwood, located somewhere in Redwood National Park in Northern California. One "tallest tree," Hyperion, has been measured at 115.61 m (379.3 ft) - but even taller redwoods have been found.

The "world's oldest tree" is also here in Northern California, a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, somewhere in the White Mountains near Bishop, east of the Sierra Nevada. I went to the White Mountains and saw lots of old bristlecones, but nobody's telling which one is oldest.

I think it's kinda cool to be living here near the biggest, tallest, and oldest trees.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Obit- Giant Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 08:05 PM

if you google "plant immortality" and click on the BBC Earth link there's a good read on how living things manage to go on and on and on...


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