Country music singer Alan Jackson once crooned about buying his beloved some tall, tall trees, but where would the romantic songster go to find the tallest tree in the world?
Many may be surprised to discover said tree resides not in some remote area of the tropical rainforest, but somewhere slightly closer to home. Every continent in the world — except for Antarctica, which has only two native plant species — has trees, but they don’t grow to achieve enormous stature just anywhere.
Humankind may never know some of the giants felled by the logging industry. However, conservation efforts have arisen globally to save the true gargantuan trees, even if this means denying tourists the exact location of their existence to prevent vandalism.
Here are some fascinating facts about the tallest trees in the world, as well as where folks have to trek to find them.
Where Do the Tallest Trees Tend to Live?
Those who have ever tended a friends’ houseplants when they went on holiday or planted a garden of their own know plants need specific conditions to grow and thrive. Trees, especially the titans of the arboreal world, need an even more particular set of living conditions to soar to their massive heights.
Knowing this, it should come as no surprise the worlds’ tallest trees tend to live in coastal areas with milder temperatures, frequent rain and few rapid changes in weather. Some exist in tropical locations and others in more temperate climates, but regardless of which location, the stability of weather patterns reigns supreme.
Consider the way in the tundra and atop the tallest mountain peaks, a treeline exists beyond which trees no longer grow due to frigid temperatures, high winds and lack of moisture.
Think, too, of the desert southwest: while trees exist, the majority stand no more than 20 feet tall, a mere fifth of what the world’s tallest tree stands. While trees such as cypress surround the Sahara, in the harshest part of the desert, no trees grow.
Trees need warmth — but not dry heat — adequate water and sufficient light.
What Species of Tree Grow Largest?
Not every oak or cherry tree can grow to enormous heights. Certain species tend toward giantism more than others. The top five tallest tree species in the world, in no particular order, are:
- Coastal redwoods. These trees can surpass 300 feet in height, and can live up to 2,000 years. They grow only on the Pacific coast of the United States. Those wishing to visit trees several times older than our nation itself do well to go west.
- Giant sequoias. Not only do giant sequoias scrape the sky, but they also have the thickest bark on earth. They share the Pacific Northwest with the coastal redwoods. The death of two sequoias reportedly led to the creation of the U.S. National Park Service.
- Giant ash. Tanzania, an island off the southern coast of Australia, boasts some seriously monster trees. The name comes from the color of the bark, which is grey or white. These trees are topped with leaves that resemble white pom poms and create a canopy home for many rare animal species.
- Douglas fir. While most of us in the west think of Douglas fir trees as holiday decor, in the wild, these beasts can tower over their kin. Can you imagine how many strings of lights a 200 foot tree would require?
- Yellow meranti. This tree of Southeast Asia looks like a palm tree on steroids. They grow taller than a football field. While researchers have scaled their heights, the tropical winds of the area make doing so an unsteady occupation indeed.
The World’s Top Three Tallest Trees
So what is the world’s tallest tree? Before we crown our queen, let’s first take a look at the bronze and silver medal finalists.
Menara, a south Asian beauty located in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Borneo, Malaysia, has a name literally translating to “tower” in the native Malay tongue. This marvel stands over 308 feet tall, the height of a football field. Nor is Menara an only child. She has an entire grove of sisters reaching close to her impressive height. Can you imagine a stroll through such an enchanted forest?
The Doerner fir, located in Oregon, U.S., stands over 327 feet tall and is one massive Douglas fir. The tree is home to the rare spotted salamander, a unique amphibian who dwells in trees. Although the top 15 meters of the tree has perished, this hardly detracts from the magnitude of what has got to be a favorite rest spot of Santa and his team of reindeer.
The winner of the Tallest Tree in the World Award: Hyperion. Named after one of the ancient titans who ruled over heavenly light, it seems this grand lady is more equipped to create massive shade. Located in the Redwoods National Forest in California, the tree’s exact location remains unnamed in order to prevent visitors from vandalizing her. Long live the Queen — of the forest!
Protecting Our Arboreal Treasures
Trees do much to support human and animal life on earth.
The best way to pay homage for the joy and wonder trees provide is to protect these beautiful gifts of nature for future generations to enjoy.