The Magnificent Redwood
The redwoods are even mightier because they band together.
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In northern California, just a few miles inland from the Pacific Coast, a sacred grove pays tribute to the past. Here live the mighty redwoods of the Armstrong State Reserve, inspirational titans from pre-historic times. They're the tallest living things on earth, a testament to the wonders of nature. Their branches reach as high as a 30-story building. They have trunks the size of a city bus. One tree contains enough wood to build an astounding 40 homes, all with five rooms. And some of these redwoods are 2,000 years old.
The redwoods have an undeniable tenacity for survival. The bark is one foot thick, serving as a shield of armor against bugs, disease, even fire. If it's attacked, the redwood heals itself and builds a buttress around the weaker section.
It's hard to imagine that such a mammoth tree relies on shallow roots for its security. The redwood's lack of a taproot is perhaps its only weakness. The tree could theoretically be toppled by a strong-enough wind. But in typical redwood style, the trees have found a way to fight their vulnerability. They intertwine their roots from tree to tree, proving that there's strength in numbers. The result is a web of interwoven roots, which help the trees stabilize each other and become less vulnerable to high winds. The redwoods use their web of roots to share water too.
Fog is critical to the survival of the redwoods. They're called "monarchs of the mist" for their amazing ability to trap water from the fog in their canopies and then drip it down from their lofty needles to their roots.
Logging in the 19th century claimed many of the redwoods. What was once thousands of acres of trees is now an 800-acre grove at the Armstrong Reserve. So revegetation is an important job. From November to March every year, workers gather cones. Only one out of every ten seeds will survive, so tens of thousands are collected. Each seed is tiny, no bigger than a tomato seed.
At three months old, the seedlings are only inches tall. At one year, the seedlings are moved outdoors to the grove (the grove needs a good five inches of rain before the seedlings can be planted). The site is carefully chosen, with just the right mixture of sun and shade. At least 200 seedlings are planted twice a month.
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