The redwood tree grows in the coastal area of northern and central California, from the very northern tip of the state to the Santa Cruz area in central California. It can reach astounding heights if it is not cut as valuable timber. The red-barked tree is usually found in groves, where the thick canopy of the tall conifer prevents competition from other trees. Redwood National Park, located in northern California near the town of Crescent City, features many square miles of primeval redwood forest.
With some trees coming in at over 300 feet tall, the redwood is the tallest tree in the world. This tremendous height is partly due to the fog that forms in the coastal valleys of California and decreases the rate of evaporation among the tree tops. This continual presence of mist during the hottest months of the year insures a wet and super-saturated micro-environment that exists from the very top of the tree right down to the soil.
Fire can be an aid to the growth of this tree. The thick bark of the tree makes the tree very resistant to fire, so that after a forest fire the redwood will have a high rate of survival. Other trees in the California forest are more adversely affected by fire, so their recovery is more difficult.
There are many places along the coast to go and view the magnificent forests. Big Basin State Park near Santa Cruz and Muir Woods just outside San Francisco are just two such places to visit and stare upwards at the majestic giants.
Not much light reaches the forest floor underneath the the thick canopy of the redwood forest, so plant growth at the ground level is limited to just a few species of shrubs and plants that can survive under the conditions of little or no direct sunlight.
Life at 300 Feet
In recent years scientist have set up biological stations in the tops of these large trees, just to study the ecological system that exists in this unusual environment. Research concluded that the biological diversity of life is quite rich. Insects and rodents are abundant as are a variety of plant life that includes many kinds of fungus and moss and even smaller trees and shrubs that have taken root in the uppermost branches of the redwood.