Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Finally a redwood

with 17 comments


After teasing you here with pictures from redwood preserves, first the Armstrong Grove and then Muir Woods, I’m finally providing a clear shot of a California redwood tree, Sequoia sempervirens, from Big Basin Redwoods State Park on October 31. This species produces the tallest trees in the world, even if in today’s photo you’re looking only at the base of one. I was attracted by the way the orange patches on the redwood’s trunk, along with the dry redwood leaves fallen on the ground, contrasted not only with the green of the moss on the tree but also and even more so with the greater greenery of the forest beyond.

Click below to zoom in on the orange area.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2017 at 4:40 AM

17 Responses

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  1. Is the orange simply a stage of bark growth, damage or sap exudation?

    Steve Gingold

    January 20, 2017 at 5:08 AM

    • You’ve got me there, Steve. I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2017 at 5:13 AM

      • I just did a very quick Google search and it is possibly from damage to the bark. One image showed damage from fire and another just said damage. Redwood mulch is orangey red..or reddish orangey…so possibly the color reveals when abraded.

        Steve Gingold

        January 20, 2017 at 5:25 AM

        • Thanks for those insights. We saw some redwoods greatly hollowed out, presumably by fire, yet still apparently doing just fine. These trees can endure a lot.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 20, 2017 at 5:28 AM

          • But they do have their limits. Did you read about the fall of one of the famous sequoias in Calfornia’s storm earlier this month? There’s a link in the article to a drive-through redwood, too. I certainly hope that people today realize that creating such attractions is a really bad idea.


            January 20, 2017 at 5:29 PM

            • Yes, I saw it on the news. In that case the tree had been artificially cut, and completely through. In none of the damaged redwoods that I saw did the hollowing-out go all the way through. I don’t think (and I certainly hope) that no one would cut a tunnel through one of these trees today.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 20, 2017 at 5:43 PM

  2. what a majestic presence it has, as if entitled to claim that parcel of earth!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    January 20, 2017 at 5:12 AM

  3. I had to laugh — the tree looks as though it’s been mulched with redwood mulch. The colors are luminous, and the contrast in textures — bark, moss, leaves, forest — is wonderful.

    I read in this article that tannins are the cause of the reddish-orange color that gives the tree its name. But the article is about much more than that. It’s about the biodiversity that exists within these trees: the lichens, mosses, and other epiphytic communities. Here’s one neat finding:

    “This study also uncovered a species new to science — a lichen as diminutive as its redwood host is towering. Sprouting from the tree bark like a minuscule hair, Mr. Williams bestowed it with a fitting name: redwood stubble.”


    January 20, 2017 at 5:39 PM

    • You might say that the base of the tree has been mulched, just with redwood leaves rather than bark. Whatever the substances, I couldn’t resist playing up the contrast between the orange and the green.

      That’s a good article. I especially liked the finding that some epiphytes had other epiphytes on them. That suddenly reminded me of Jonathan Swift’s quatrain, which I think I’ve mentioned before:

      “So nat’ralists observe, a flea
      Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
      And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.
      And so proceeds Ad infinitum.”

      A couple of centuries later, De Morgan wrote his own version:

      “Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
      And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
      And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
      While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2017 at 6:24 PM

  4. I’ve been to Muir Woods. Beautiful place and your photo is gorgeous!

    Lavinia Ross

    January 22, 2017 at 10:06 PM

    • Thanks. Now that I’ve been to Muir Woods, I understand why you wanted to go there. It sure was crowded, though.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 22, 2017 at 11:12 PM

  5. Ah life in the forest .. I bet the smell was super 😃


    January 23, 2017 at 11:47 AM

  6. I’m sorry to say this, Steve, but that is the unhealthiest looking redwood I’ve ever seen! I was speechless when you first posted it and there, now I’ve blurted out what I really think. I’m sorry to hear that Muir Woods was crowded. Always when I was a child the redwoods were silent and peaceful. I’d rather have more trees and fewer humans. Wow! what a curmudgeon I am this morning! I’d better go brew up some coffee.


    February 24, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    • Good morning, Miss Curmudgeon (and by now Miss Coffee Bean). I never thought of the tree as unhealthy, but rather assumed that patches like the one shown here are normal. Now you’ve made me wonder.

      Yes, Muir Woods was a zoo, at least in the main part that we visited. I imagine that if we’d had time to follow some of the trails away from that area we’d have found quieter redwood groves. In fact the Armstrong Grove that we visited a few days earlier was much quieter, in part because of rainier weather.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 24, 2017 at 2:27 PM

      • I’m glad you were able to experience some of the quiet there, even if you did have to stand in the rain to do so. Sometimes it feels like the planet is suffocating under humans.


        February 26, 2017 at 9:08 AM

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