National Geographic Features League Research
California's enormous giant sequoia is the world's most massive tree.
National Geographic Magazine's December cover story includes the remarkable findings of League scientists who are studying how redwoods can survive sweeping environmental changes. The feature includes incredible photos, such as a portrait of "the President," a 3,200-year-old giant sequoia, and the interactive gallery, Tree of Life. Research team members of the League's Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative helped National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols and Deputy Director of Photography Ken Geiger to capture these images. Geiger told us about the experience.
The portrait of the President tree is a composite of 126 images. Geiger revealed that a year of preparation took place before the two-week shoot in Sequoia National Park. They set up an intricate rope system that allowed them to scale the 247-foot tree and lower the suspended camera rig from the canopy to the ground, capturing images all the way.
Heavy snow posed the greatest challenge. Geiger said it took more than a week to get useable images. Nonetheless, he recalled the experience with reverence.
"It’s an amazing and magical place, especially in the wintertime," he said. Geiger spent about 120 hours painstakingly stitching the 126 images together to create the portrait. Thanks to the hard work of Geiger, Nichols, and the rest of the team, we can finally see the magnificent giant sequoia in its entirety.
Learn more about these amazing trees by checking out our Giant Sequoias facts page. You can also listen to the California Report's interview with Stephen Sillett, one of the Redwoods and Climate Change researchers, about studying and climbing these massive giants.
Plants in the Redwood Understory: Liverwort
Lunularia cruciata is a liverwort, one of the world's small plants. A relative of mosses, this plant hugs the ground as it grows horizontally on moist soil. This liverwort gets its name from the moon-shaped cups on the top of the plant (Lunularia for luna, or moon). These small cups (called gemmae), contain baby liverworts that get bounced out by raindrops and ricocheted to a new patch of ground to hopefully start growing.
Explore more redwood resources on our Redwoods Learning Center.
HIGHLIGHTS: A walk on 2,571-foot Mount Tamalpais puts Northern California in perspective. From this promontory just north of San Francisco, you can see the Farallon Islands 25 miles to the west and the Sierra Nevada 150 miles to the east on a clear day.