111. Coast Redwoods

Colonial Tree.
Colonial Tree.
Proboscis Grove.

The towering trees you see before you are coast redwoods. The coast redwood’s scientific name is Sequoia sempervirens, meaning “forever living,” as these trees can live up to 2,200 years. The trees here in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in the Proboscis Grove near the Big Sur Lodge are between 500 and 800 years old. Coast redwoods are among the fastest growing trees in the world, and can grow more than 360 feet tall and 30 feet wide in the trunk. The largest tree in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the Colonial Tree near Day-Use Parking Lot #4, standing at 31 feet wide. Coast redwoods can grow to be so old and big because they have incredible adaptations, including thick bark to protect against fire and tannins in their leaves, branches and bark to protect against fungal disease and insect infestation. Coast redwoods are very particular about their surroundings, and only grow in a narrow strip of land from southern Oregon to here in Big Sur in what is called the “redwood belt.” They use the area’s dense coastal fog as their source of water through a “fog drip” process, in which they absorb water through their leaves and then store it in their roots for later use. Today, only 5% of the original redwood forests still exist in the world, mostly in parks and reserves.