Photo Tour: Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis

Extending from Alaska to California, Sitka spruce takes over as the dominant coastal tree where the geographic range of redwood ends in extreme southwestern Oregon. Heavily persecuted for its wood, whose strength to weight ratio is among the highest on Earth, very little old-growth Sitka spruce forest remains. Today there are only a few individuals over 300 feet remaining in British Columbia and Washington, and we know of none in Oregon. As with Douglas-fir, the highest concentration of Sitka spruce over 300 feet now resides in northwestern California amidst the redwoods, where the tallest live-topped individual stands 318 feet.

Other Photo Tours

Doing Canopy Science »

How exactly do scientists explore the tops of the world's tallest trees? Here's a slideshow detailing some of the climbing techniques used in canopy research at Humboldt State University.

Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens »

These five photo tours detail the world's tallest tree species, coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), the crown structure of redwood trees, views from old-growth forest canopies, and the unique plants and animals that live hundreds of feet above the ground.

Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum »

This photo tour explores my work with Sequoiadendron giganteum, the giant sequoia. This species is confined to California's Sierra Nevada, where they reach sizes greater than the biggest living coast redwoods and ages up to 3200 years.

Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii »

Before logging took its toll on the Douglas-fir forests of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, specimens over 400 feet tall were measured. Today the highest concentration of Douglas-firs over 300 feet tall reside in northwestern California amidst the redwoods, as shown in this photo tour.

Eucalyptus regnans »

Eucalyptus regnans is the undisputed tallest flowering plant in the world. There are, for instance, many well-publicized claims of several trees over 400 feet that were either logged or burned in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today the tallest living individual is a 327-foot-tall Tasmanian tree. This photo tour takes you into Australia's tallest forests.