Photograph by Michael Nichols
Giant sequoias live at high elevations, enduring cold, heavy snows, lightning strikes—and growing bulky and strong, though not so tall as coast redwoods. This individual, the President, is the second most massive tree known on Earth.
The giant sequoia is a snow tree, Sillett says, adapted for long winters in the Sierra. But it’s a fire tree too. Thick bark protects it from burning in lightning-caused fires, which open cones and clear the understory, allowing saplings to find light and prosper.
Before it was felled in the early 1900s, this giant in Converse Basin provided a backdrop for hundreds posing for photographs. The difficulties of logging saved giant sequoias in other groves from this fate.