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New redwood bark spreads over this cut redwood stump at Armstrong Redwoods.
New redwood bark spreads over this cut redwood stump at Armstrong Redwoods.

The ability of redwoods to heal themselves is almost as remarkable as how incredibly tall they grow. Amazingly, coast redwoods can heal over a wound when they are injured from fire, are damaged by the wind, or even are cut down by the ax.

A living tissue layer underneath the bark is responsibly for growing new bark over tree wounds. This tissue is called the cambium and it slowly spreads over exposed wood as cambial cells divide and transform into new bark that keeps water in the tree and keeps disease and pests out. Other parts of the tree send sugar to feed the cambium as it grows over the injury and this healing can take many years if it is a big wound.

New bark has complete covered this redwood stump at the Grove of Old Trees.
New bark has complete covered this redwood stump at the Grove of Old Trees.

It’s mind-blowing to see this healing happen on large stumps of trees that seem like they should be dead. Even if when redwoods are cut down, we find evidence that their roots and clonal sprouts live on, able to provide enough energy to the stump for it to start healing itself.

Have you seen this in the forest? Tell me about it!


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About Emily Burns

Emily joined Save the Redwoods League as the Director of Science in 2010 after studying redwood forest ecology for seven years.


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