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Saunters with Dr. Steve Sillett

Cross posted at park_rangers, nationalparks, and rantingranger. Again, apologies to those who see it in multiple places.

Having begun my third consecutive year at Redwood National Park, I won't get the full onslaught of seasonal training this spring; but I've had the good fortune to catch Humboldt State University botany professor Dr. Steve Sillett each time around. Sillett specifically studies the epiphyte communities that typically develop around and above 61 meters (200 feet), and along with Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins, seeks out the world's biggest and tallest trees.

After getting us up to speed on the life in the canopy and the specifics of the newly-measured, presently-world's-tallest trees, Sillett took us to meet two of his favorites, patiently enduring our inquiries well past his scheduled time with us. His passion for these trees and the communities that develop within each of them comes through; even after spending the better part of eleven years up in these trees, his sense of wonder has yet to lose any steam.

Sillett has coined this behemoth "Castle Tree" for its ancient and formidable architecture. Only a handful of giant sequoia and other redwoods exceed this tree in size. By virtue of its position next to a sizable stream, this tree enjoyed an unusually open setting within the redwood forest, which it has maintained in old age by dropping branches the size of eastern trees; extending virtually all of its 91 meter (300 foot) height, this tree probably has the largest crown and most leaves of any tree on the planet.

Between Monday's and Tuesday's whales and pelicans, Wednesday's sunshine and lupine bloom in the Bald Hills, and Thursday's saunter with Sillett, the summer of 2007 at Redwood National Park has started more splendidly than I could have dreamed!


Nov. 10th, 2007 01:07 am (UTC)
great photo great tree!!!!
Hi from Dublin ,Ireland.I loved your story of working at the national park, it has made me even more ambitious towards some day working in one myself.At the moment I am a horticulture student and have also had a brief but amazing experience working with the Wicklow park mountain rangers over here.Counting Perguin falcons was so surreal.Anyway thanks for the inspiring story. Enjoy life!


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