World's Largest Tree?    Rory Nichols
   Apr 22, 2004 23:01 PDT 

I have a question that might be a dumb one. What is the largest known tree? General Sherman?... Or the quaking aspen located in Utah that has held the title of world's largest living organism? the aspen(s?) is 6500 tons compared to sherman's 1400. the aspen has about 47,000 stems.

Re: World's Largest Tree?    greentreedoctor
   Apr 23, 2004 05:29 PDT 

I think we must make a distinction between what we broadly classify as an organism (a living thing with the ability to act or function independently) and what specifically classify as a tree (a woody perennial plant with well-defined stem).   I would imagine that most foresters/arborists consider any soil separation of stems or root sprouts to be separate individual trees, though possibly the same organism.   The Lindsey Creek Giant is generally believed to be the all-time record tree, while the General Sherman is the largest known living tree (by volume).   I don't know if it's been proven that Utah's single organism quaking aspen forest has maintained physical linkage throughout it's life.



RE: World's Largest Tree?
   Apr 23, 2004 11:41 PDT 

It's my understanding that General Sherman is the largest single-stem tree, and
most people do not consider multi-stem aspen as one organism in the respect of
comparative size. I believe, though, that until quite recently there was a
Huon Pine in Tasmania that was considered the biggest tree in the world. It
was killed by a forest fire-- my understanding is the fire was intentionally
set as a forest management technique and it got out of control.

Re: World's Largest Tree?    greentreedoctor
   Apr 23, 2004 14:52 PDT 


While you're clarifying the matter, does a stem need to be physically joined to the central trunk to be considered a stem of that tree? Would a root sprout be better classified as a "sucker".   

Re: World's Largest Tree?    darbyshires
   Apr 23, 2004 15:09 PDT 

What about the Tane Mahuta (Agathis pumila?) of New Zealand? It ranks right
up there as one of the most massive trees - while it is shorter than the
Sequoias, it is much larger in diameter, and supports amazing ecosystems in
its canopy...


Re: World's Largest Tree?    greentreedoctor
   Apr 23, 2004 17:03 PDT 
According to BVP's book, "Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast", California lays claim to the world's largest trees & tallest trees (Sequoias & coast redwoods).   No others even come close in volume.   BC's western red cedars are a distant third at about 15,000 ft3.   The General is over 55,000 ft3!   Even the much smaller Arco Giant, a coast redwood, is almost 31,000 ft3. Two previous coast redwoods processed a greater volume than even the General!   In fact, many of the twenty species found in BVP's book and native to the NW, dominate the tree world.   Though the Aussie's mountain ash were known to reach 400 ft in height, the American Douglas Fir may have once reached 450 ft!   Even in the face of rampant highgrading, we are a most blessed nation!   

Re: World's Largest Tree?
   Apr 24, 2004 09:50 PDT 

It is not a trivial-sized can of worms that you open...

For single stemmed trees the Sequoias have no peer. These are the trees I know of over 10 K cubic feet

Sequoiadendron 55,040
Sequoia         36,890
Agathis         18,250
Thuja           17,650
Eucalyptus      13,300
Pseudotsuga     12,320
Picea           11,920
Taxodium        ~10K
Adansonia       ~10K

I do not think any others would make this list.

In terms of living biomass, remember that a tree like the General Sherman is 99 percent dead. Only the cambium, a very small amount of phloem and xylem, the leaves and fine roots are actually alive.

The Populus tremuloides (and P. tremula in Asia) clones are famous, but most people forget that Sequoia is often clonal - a grove of 7 or 8 giants would have more mass than the 47,000 stems of Utah's 'Pando' clone. Other, less well studied clones could be just as extensive (and ancient). Where I live there is evidence that certain clones of Acer circinatum or Rhododendron macrophyllum are 4-6,000 years old. These clones could now consist of enough stems to warrent inclusion in this list.

In terms of actual living mass, the mycelium of the Armelaria gallica that covers 15 hectares in Upper Michigan will probably beat any of the 'tree' contenders.

How unromantic.