The Olympic-like Competition among Redwoods

Redwoods compete for sunlight.
Redwoods compete for sunlight.

There’s nothing quite like the image of five Olympic rings to remind me of good old competition! I love the excitement that builds up as the games begin, wondering who will reign supreme.

Trees may not be aware of our Olympic traditions, but they certainly compete with each other. As the Olympics unfold, it’s fun to remember that out there in the redwood forest every day, the trees are growing in a race to be the tallest. Being the tallest tree in the forest is a prize worth shooting for because with great height comes more sunlight that sustains the tree over its lifetime. As a species, the coast redwoods are the world’s gold-medal-winning trees for height, reaching more than 350 feet at their tallest!

About the author

Emily Burns, the League’s former Director of Science, led the research program that includes the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. She holds a PhD in Integrative Biology on the impacts of fog on coast redwood forest flora from the University of California, Berkeley.

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