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Giant Redwood (left) and California Redwood (right) - April 2020
Thanks to Miriam who wrote to say "I found your website because I was looking for information to help me identify the exact types of the redwood trees nearby me. I checked to see if they are in your list and I donít think they are. You do have a redwood tree near me on the list Ė in Wroxton Ė but you donít have the ones Iím thinking of. They are in the grounds of Wroxton Abbey and there are several of them. During lockdown (Covid-19 pandemic in 2020) Iíve been going on lots of walks and trying to improve my tree identification skills, so Iíve been examining them quite closely. One is I think a California Redwood, because it has flat needles opposite each other. But there are two other types as well Ė one type that has very tiny pointy needles, which makes me think it is a Giant Sequoia, and another type that has me stumped, because it has scales, not needles. I was wondering if you could shed any light!"

I believe they are both Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum). There are variations in the openess of the needles, although this is more notable in younger foliage. As an aside, there is a tree, the Japanese Cedar, that has similar foliage to the Giant Redwood and has briefly fooled me from a distance on a couple of occassions, but interestingly the needles are more open and are curved inward at the tips. You can see some comparisons on this page:
Redwood Types (Giant Redwood).

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Coast Redwood
The bark of the Japanese Cedar is quite hard and the form of the mature trees is different to the Giant Redwood. As well as the tighter foliage on the Giant when seen from a distance, the other giveaway is the more pronounced broadening of the base of the trunk. The Coast Redwood (aka California Redwood) is generally very straight all the way to the ground (although just to confuse matters, in this instance your photograph shows that it does have a sightly broadening base!)

Miriam wrote again to say "Yes, they have some Japanese Red Cedars in the Abbey as well! Theyíre one of the ones I was able to identify with my tree book. It did take some detective work though. Thatís interesting about the variations in the needles Ė very mysterious! Do you think that given enough time, the redwoods here would get as big as the ones in California? Or do you think itís the conditions there that have allowed them to get so big, not just their age?"

I'm not sure they will grow quite a big as the Redwoods in America, perhaps for several reasons. It could be they need to exist in large Redwood forests rather than as individual trees (as most specimens are in Britain). The protection of the group might offer some defence against hurricane winds so that there is a good chance that a high proportion will not suffer snapped tops. The other factor is the weather and surrounding conditions. The Coast Redwood I believe relies on the summer fogs that roll in from the California coast, although I can't recall whether they absorb moisture through the leaves in the upper sections or whether it is the huge amount of drippage soaking the ground around the bases. The Giant Redwood's native habitat in the Sierra Nevada mountains probably also provides a fairly unique environment with the mountain streams providing plenty of water in the mid summer heat. That said, there are probably a few examples in Scotland and perhaps Wales where the conditions in summer might at least ensure adequate water to allow very tall tree growth.

Good tip about the broadening of the base on the Giant Redwood. I found the two trees looked exactly the same when I first started looking, but now I can tell them apart much more easily. The Californiaís branches look more floopy from a distance - they floop upwards at the ends like a 1970s hairstyle. Unfortunately I think Ďfloopí may be a word I have made up, but I know what I mean. Now I just need to spot a Dawn Redwood somewhere, to complete the set! (Does it have the same spongy reddish bark?)"

Dawn Redwood, although they often have a reddish bark, it is not spongy, it is slightly fibrous at the surface (where it hasn't been worn away), but because it's a fairly thin layer the tree feels quite hard to the touch.
You can find more information and pictures for identification of Dawn Redwood on this page:
Redwood Types (Dawn Redwood).

Examples of Dawn Redwood trunk:
Stretford - Longford Park (Greater Manchester)
Woodhall Spa - Jubilee Park (Lincolnshire)
Woking - Woking Park (Surrey)
Chichester - Bishops Palace Gardens (Sussex)
Wilton - Wilton House (Wiltshire)
Leeds - The Hollies (Yorkshire)

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