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Sequoias like the ones at Calaveras Big Trees State Park are more than just big trees--by volume, they’re the most enormous living thing on Earth, with secrets and adaptations that allow them to grow up to 325 feet tall and live for up to 3,000 years. Perhaps even more impressive is the way a sequoia responds to adversity. These plants reproduce through seeds found in small, green cones at the top of the tree. In order to open and drop these seeds, the cones need the help of something that would kill most trees: fire. Wildfires dry out a sequoia’s cones, cracking them open and allowing them to drop their seeds hundreds of feet to the forest floor.
Remembering these characteristics will help you appreciate the two beautiful groves of sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This appreciation is very important, because a lack of it has caused irreparable harm to the groves in the past. American Indians respected these groves for hundreds of years, but the Europeans that discovered them in the 1800s did not share this respect. They cut down the largest tree in the park, the “Discovery Tree”, and used its stump as a dance floor. The second largest tree, the “Mother of the Forest”, was skinned, allowing it to die from burns. You can choose to be kind and considerate towards nature by picking up trash and staying on trails at this park, as well as learning some of the things that make sequoias special in this section’s learning topic.