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Giant Redwood "Howard" - March 2021
Heidi wrote to say; "We moved into a house 2 years ago and it came with a beautiful Giant Sequoia. I collected a large amount of cones from it and had no success with germination of the seeds. I wonder if you can help me with a question please, do you know how often the sequoia tree produces cones? I suspect it's annually, with more cones when the conditions are perfect. I wondered if the tree had had a particularly good year, allowing it to create many cones. I've seen a few over the last 12 months but not nearly as many as when we first arrived here."

Congratulations on acquiring a Redwood tree! With regard to the production of cones, I believe that production is a perpetual thing, but they can stay on the trees for some years. There is an annual cycle in the creation of the cones as described on this American National Park Service web page. This page explain show the Giant sequoia cones start forming in the Summer, are pollinated in Spring, fertilized in the Autumn, and the cones mature the following Summer.

The number of cones produced will be variable, perhaps in greater number when the conditions are good, but I have a feeling that in a really stressful year, a tree might produce more cones/seeds in case it doesn't survive. I've heard this said on numerous ocassions, perhaps there is some truth in it.

As for your attempts at growing from its seeds, I've found that naturally dropped brown cones to be fairly unproductive, I've had most luck from green cones that I've pulled from the tree. when they are egg-size. I let them dry indoors until the scales open and then pry out the seeds, sowing them as soon as possible or storing in a sealed bag in a fridge.

Heidi replied including further information about the Giant Sequoia and house dates; "I really appreciate your tip with regard to collecting the green cones, something I will definitely try. It will be a challenge to get them, the tree's situation has provided shade from other woodland trees and its lower branches appear to have died off. It's also on a slope, I'm not sure that's of any great benefit to its root system. The slope drops steeply away down into the woods.

The house was build around 1909 and I suspect the tree would have been planted around that time, there are other significant Western Red Cedar trees in the woodland and along the properties boundary, in the past many of the cedars belonged to the neighbouring large mansion, the big house now long gone. Both properties have their history rooted in coal mining ownership.

With regard to the date of the house being 1909, I was watching a video recently about the movement of a giant sequoia in Boise back in 2017.

It was mentioned in the short documentary that the tree they moved was 1 of 5 that were originally donated to the town by John Muir and the date they gave was 1909. Interesting to think of all the activity surrounding the trees' distribution stemming from the USA at that time and in the previous years.

I understand that the redwood became quite the status symbol in the late 19th century in the UK. We feel very fortunate to have the tree in our daily lives. We even named it Howard. Howard was a very kind older man who worked at the local supermarket. We'd only just moved here at the time, Howard was a friendly face in the midst of the Covid pandemic. Sadly the previous owners have not passed on any information with regard to the tree's history."

Thank you for the interesting details Heidi, and for letting us include your Redwood tree on the website.

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