Stanley’s Coastal Redwoods

Sequoia semper virens, the Coast Redwood, is an evergreen conifer, native to the narrow coastal ‘fog belt’ on the Pacific coast of North America. From South Western Oregon, through northern and central California, to south of Monterey, the fog belt restricts the Sequoias to within 40km of the coast, and to an altitude of less than 1,000 metres.

Sequoia sempervirens4The bush fire-resistant tree can live up to 1,000 years, with an average lifespan of 400-800 years. Attaining heights of 120m, it is one of the world’s tallest trees.

Its wood is in great demand, being soft, fine-grained, easy to work and takes a good polish. It is used in building construction and carpentry, as well as for fence posts, telegraph poles and railway sleepers.

Sequoia is a Cherokee Indian word, ‘Sequoyah’, being a Cherokee half-breed of Georgia. The species semper virens means ‘always green’ or ‘evergreen’.

Stanley’s Sequoias can be found along No. 1 Road, about 500m from its junction with Nursery Road, where there is a small stand of about 20 trees. Two smaller trees are growing in the Spring Ditch pond reserve, and others in private Stanley gardens.

A close relative is the Sierra Redwood. It was once included in the genus ‘Sequoia’ but has now been given its own genus Sequoia dendron, species giganteum (literally Giant Sequoia tree). It is also known as Giant Sequoia, Giant Redwood, Big Tree and Wellingtonia.

Growing up to 100m in height and living 2,000 years or more, with a massive trunk, one tree has been dated at over 3,000 years and is estimated to weigh 2,000 tons. It is considered to be the world’s most massive tree. Sequoia Dendron giganteum is native to the western slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada.

To date, no Sierra Redwoods have been seen in Stanley but there are at least 30 trees in Beechworth. Ten are located on the William’s Street side in the Town Hall Gardens. More are growing at Beechworth Primary School and on the Golf Course, adjacent to Balaclava Road. Two more stand like imposing sentries on the corners of the opposite street. Its wood is durable when in soil contact.

Another evergreen conifer from west North America, living in Stanley, is the Oregon/Douglass fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Pseudotsuga, the false Tsuga, are Hemlock trees. Oregon is North America’s premier timber tree as it is a fine park/recreational area tree, capable of growing to 100m in a forest, but only attaining 25-30m in a park.

Two small Pseudotsugas are in Pioneer Road, near the entrance to the Stanley Recreation Reserve. The largest tree overhangs the sign. About 10 are growing in Spring Ditch Pond Reserve, with 2 fine trees on the nature strip at the eastern end of Collins Road. More Oregons have been sighted on residential properties.

Christopher Leard

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