General Sherman (tree)

General Sherman is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree located at an elevation of 2,109 m (6,919 ft) above sea level in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, in the U.S. state of California. By volume, it is the largest known living single-stem tree on Earth.

The General Sherman tree was named after the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. The official story, which may be apocryphal, claims the tree was named in 1879 by naturalist James Wolverton, who had served as a lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under Sherman.[1]

Seven years later, in 1886, the land came under the control of the Kaweah Colony, a utopian socialist community whose economy was based on logging. Noting the pivotal role that Sherman had played in the Indian Wars and his forced relocation of native American tribes, they renamed the tree in honor of Karl Marx.[2] However, the community was disbanded in 1892, primarily as a result of the establishment of Sequoia National Park, and the tree reverted to its previous name.

In 1931, following comparisons with the nearby General Grant tree, General Sherman was identified as the largest tree in the world. One result of this process was that wood volume became widely accepted as the standard for establishing and comparing the size of different trees.[3][4]

In January 2006, the largest branch on the tree (seen most commonly, in older photos, as an "L" or golf-club shape, protruding from about a quarter of the way down the trunk) broke off. There were no witnesses to the incident, and the branch‍—‌with a diameter of over 2 m (6.6 ft) and a length of over 30 m (98 ft), larger than most tree trunks‍—‌smashed part of the perimeter fence and cratered the pavement of the surrounding walkway. The breakage is not believed to be indicative of any abnormalities in the tree's health and may even be a natural defense mechanism against adverse weather conditions.[5]

Six firefighters clad in yellow gear place sheets of silver foil around the tree's base, slightly above the height of their heads. Firefighters and park personnel wrap General Sherman in fire shelter material to help protect it from the KNP Complex Fire

On September 16, 2021, the tree was threatened by the KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park. Park and firefighting personnel wrapped the tree's base in a protective foil usually used on structures in case the wildfire approached the General Sherman Tree‍—‌which, in the end, was left unharmed.[6][7]

^ Tweed, William (September 26, 2014). "A famous name and a mystery". Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register. Retrieved May 21, 2020. ^ Miller, Daegan (2018). This Radical Land; A natural history of American dissent. University of Chicago Press. ^ Cite error: The named reference nps was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Van Pelt, Robert. "The Trees". Forest Giants. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. ^ Tweed, William (February 7, 2006). "Sequoias designed to last a couple of thousand years". Visalia Times Delta. ^ "California fires: General Sherman and other sequoias given blankets". BBC News. September 17, 2021. Archived from the original on March 7, 2023. Retrieved March 27, 2023. ^ Ebrahimji, Alisha; Elam, Stephanie (September 17, 2021). "Officials wrapped the world's largest tree in protective foil to guard it against California wildfires". CNN. Archived from the original on December 9, 2022. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
Photographies by:
Jim Bahn - CC BY 2.0
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