The scarcity of young Sequoias strikes every visitor, the fact being that they are only to be found in certain favored spots. These are, either where the loose debris of leaves and branches which covers the ground has been cleared away by fire, or on the spots where trees have been uprooted. Here the young trees grow in abundance, and serve to replace those that fall. The explanation of this is, that during the long summer drought the loose surface debris is so dried up that the roots of the seedling Sequoias perish before they can penetrate the earth beneath. They require to germinate on the soil itself, and this they are enabled to do when the earth is turned up by the fall of a tree, or where a fire has cleared off the debris. They also flourish under the shade of the huge fallen trunks in hollow places, where moisture is preserved throughout the summer. Most of the other conifers of these forests, especially the pines, have much larger seeds than the Sequoias, and the store of nourishment in these more bulky seeds enables the young plants to tide over the first summer’s drought. It is clear, therefore, that there are no indications of natural decay in these forest giants. In every stage of their growth they are vigorous and healthy, and they have nothing to fear except from the destroying hand of man.
[Illustration: REDWOOD TREE WITH TRIPLE TRUNK.]
Destruction from this cause is, however, rapidly diminishing both the giant Sequoia and its near ally the noble redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), a tree which is more beautiful in foliage and in some other respects more remarkable than its brother species, while there is reason to believe that under favorable conditions it reaches an equally phenomenal size. It once covered almost all the coast ranges of central and northern California, but has been long since cleared away in the vicinity of San Francisco, and greatly diminished elsewhere. A grove is preserved for the benefit of tourists near Santa Cruz, the largest tree being two hundred and ninety-six feet high, twenty-nine feet diameter at the ground and fifteen feet at six feet above it. One of these trees having a triple trunk is here figured from a photograph. Much larger trees, however, exist in the great forests of this tree in the northern part of the State; but these are rapidly being destroyed for the timber, which is so good and durable as to be in great demand. Hence Californians have a saying that the redwood is too good a tree to live. On the mountains a few miles east of the Bay of San Francisco, there are a number of patches of young redwoods, indicating where large trees have been felled, it being a peculiarity of this tree that it sends up vigorous young plants from the roots of old ones immediately around the base. Hence in the forests these trees often stand in groups arranged nearly in a circle, thus marking out the size of the huge trunks of their parents. It is from this quality that the tree has been named