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California State Tree

California Redwood Sequoia sempervirens
Sequoia gigantea
Adopted:1937
California State Tree: Giant Sequoia
California State Tree: Giant Sequoia
Photograph by G.A. Cooper
Courtesy Smithsonian Institution

Adoption of the California State Tree

California State Tree: Coast Redwood
Sequoiadendron
gigantea

In the mid-1930s, interest developed in naming an official state tree to represent California. This interest centered on the redwoods of the state that grew taller and broader than any other tree on earth. Campaigns to adopt a state tree commenced, then ended when the California Legislature named the native redwood California's official state tree on April 3, 1937.

Senate Bill No. 112, adopted in 1937, did not name a particular species but simply referred to the native redwood. This led to some confusion. Exactly what was the native redwood?

In fact, there are two species of redwood that qualify as native to California and, in 1951, California's Attorney General ruled that both species qualified as the official state tree.

In an effort to clarify the law, the California Legislature amended it in 1953. After approval of California Senate Bill No. 1014, the amended law recognized both the Sequoia sempervirens and the Sequoia gigantea as official state trees.

Unfortunately, this attempt at clarity used an outdated classification. Back in 1939, John T. Buchholz had more properly described the giant sequoia, then classified as Sequoia gigantea, as Sequoiadendron gigantea. Though Buchholz's classification was initially criticized, today it is the currently accepted scientific name for the giant sequoia.

In other words, though adopted by the California Legislature as Sequoia gigantea, the giant Sequoia is more properly referred to as Sequoiadendron gigantea.

Sequoia sempervirens is commonly called the coast redwood, California redwood, redwood, or the Pacific redwood. The Rockefeller Forest is the largest contiguous old-growth redwood forest in the world and home to the tallest trees in the world.

Sequoiadendron gigantea is commonly referred to as the giant Sequoia, bigtree, sequoia, or the Sierra redwood. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is considered to be the largest tree in the world by volume. Here's a great photograph... and more.

The California Law: Government Code

The following information is excerpted from the California Law: Government Code, Title 1, Division 2, Section 422.

Additional Information

California State Tree: Coast Redwood
California State Tree: Coast Redwood
Photograph by R.A. Howard
Courtesy Smithsonian Institution
California State Tree: Coast Redwood
Sequoia
sempervirens

Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Lndl.): Tree Identification Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech. Landowner Factsheet.

Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.) Buchholz): Tree Identification Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech. Landowner Factsheet.

Plant Profile for Sequoia sempervirens (Lamb. ex D. Don) Lndl. (Coast Redwood): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Plant Profile for Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.) Buchholz (Giant Sequoia): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl. (Coast Redwood): United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service: Agriculture Handbook 654: Silvics of North America.

Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.) Buchholz (Giant Sequoia): United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service: Agriculture Handbook 654: Silvics of North America.

Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood): Plant Encyclopedia from MyGardenGuide.

Sequoiadendron giganteum (Sierra Redwood): Plant Encyclopedia from MyGardenGuide.

State Tree List: List of all of the state state trees.

Challenging the biggest champ: General Sherman sequoia - National Register of Big Trees.

The Rockefeller Forest: Rockefeller Forest (9,410 acres) purchased from Pacific Lumber Company by Save-the-Redwoods League for Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Rockefeller Forest is now the largest contiguous old-growth redwood forest in the world.

Save the Redwoods League: The Save-the-Redwoods League was founded in 1918. As a leader of the movement to preserve the coast redwood and giant sequoia, the League has assisted in permanently protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of redwood forestland.

Trees and Shrubs of California (California Natural History Guides): by John David Stuart, John O. Sawyer. Illustrated by Andrea J. Pickart. University of California Press (May 14, 2001)

A Field Guide to Western Trees (Peterson Field Guides: 44) (Paperback): by George A. Petrides, Olivia Petrides (Illustrator), Roger Tory Peterson (Series Editor), Houghton Mifflin; 2 edition (July 25, 1998)

A Field Guide to California and Pacific Northwest Forests (Peterson Field Guides(R)) (Paperback): by John C. Kricher (Photographer), Gordon Morrison (Illustrator), Roger Tory Peterson (Series Editor), Houghton Mifflin; Reprint edition (November 15, 1998).

A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain and Southwest Forests (Peterson Field Guides(R)) (Paperback): by John C. Kricher (Photographer), Gordon Morrison (Illustrator), Roger Tory Peterson (Series Editor), Houghton Mifflin; Revised edition (January 15, 1999).

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees : Western Region: by Elbert Luther Little, Knopf; Chanticleer Press ed edition (June 12, 1980).

America's Famous and Historic Trees: From George Washington's Tulip Poplar to Elvis Presley's Pin Oak (Hardcover) by Jeffrey G. Meyer. America's Famous and Historic Trees tells the stories of various trees that Meyer and his cohorts rescued or propagated: oftentimes, when trees were going to be cut down, he and his workers headed off the bulldozers, rescuing the tree with their massive tree hoe. Other trees--like the Indian Marker Pecan in southeast Dallas--were propagated before they died.

Trees : National Champions (Hardcover) by Barbara Bosworth. Bosworth captures the ineffable grace and dignity of trees with clarity and directness: the green ash that shades a midwestern crossroads, the common pear that blooms in a Washington field, and the Florida strangler fig with its mass of entwining aerial roots. Her black and white photographs, panoramic views taken with an 8 x 10 camera, show the immensity of the largest species and the hidden triumphs of the smallest

Plants, Seeds & Flowers: Bulbs, seeds, plants, fertilizer, plant containers and more.

Gardening Tools: Pruners, rakes, shovels, hoes, trowels, cultivators and tillers, greenhouses, yard carts and more.

State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002

State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)


Source: California Law: Government Code, (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=gov&codebody=&hits=20), October 7, 2005
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: Revised Edition (Reprint)- George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938

 
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