Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

SW of Edens Hal Map

In total volume this is the largest tree on campus, but it is a sapling stacked up against mature examples growing elsewhere. Our "big tree" is about 26 ft. in circumference, and 120 ft. high. The largest giant sequoia so far reported in our state is located in Ridgefield; it is 32 ft in circumference and 125 ft. tall. The very largest giant sequoias grow, of course, in Sequoia National Park, California, where they are estimated once to have reached a height of 350 ft. Living examples of Sequoiadendron have circumferences of as much as 93 ft. (A 93 X 350 tree theoretically could yield about 1 million board feet of lumber, enough to frame a fair-sized subdivision).

The WWU giant sequoia was planted in 1941 by Dr. Irving Miller, a prominent psychologist and longtime (1917-42) Chair of the Department of Education and Psychology. Similar trees can be visited throughout Bellingham, although this may be the largest. Sequoiadendron can be recognized from afar by its crisp conical outline against the sky. In fact, it resembles a gigantic Christmas tree, which has induced WWU to decorate it annually for the Holidays. Placing the golden star on its crown must have become an exhilarating experience.

Sequoiadendron first came to public attention about 1840. In England it is known as "Wellingtonia". Clearly Napoleon's great nemesis loomed large in the popular British imagination in the mid-19th century.