Trees are life-givers for many reasons, yet few are recognized for their staggering heights. You’ll likely be awestruck learning how tall some trees grow – from California redwoods to the giant canopies of India. Let’s explore the oldest, tallest and biggest trees across the globe.
The Bowab Tree – The Upside Down Tree of Africa
Found scattered across Africa’s savannas, the distinctive bowab tree has inspired many nicknames like “bottle tree”, “upside down tree”, and even “tree of life.” Its sturdy, fire-resistant trunk can span an incredible 11 meters wide and is often hollow, providing shelter for animals and humans. Some bowab trees are estimated to be 2,000 years old! These trees are thought to have mythical protective powers.
The Ama Maram Man – The World’s Largest Tree Canopy
Flourishing in one of India’s driest regions is the magnificent ama maram man, recorded by Guinness World Records in 1989 as the world’s largest single tree canopy. This Indian banyan tree is over 550 years old with a circumference of 846 meters, spreading across 5 acres. This impressive coverage is supported by efforts from local forest departments who reinforce its roots and supply underground water pipes.
Centurion – The Second Tallest Tree Species on Earth
Found in Tasmania, Australia’s southern region, Centurion earns the title of the second tallest tree species globally, measuring a towering 327 feet (99.6 meters) tall with a 13-foot (4 meter) diameter trunk. Centurion survived nearby wildfires in 1934 which spared only a few elder trees. And by chance in the 1950’s, it was left standing when nearby logging spared this giant.
The Majestic Monkey Pod Tree of Hawaii
The monkey pod tree, spanning tropical Americas, bears the crown for the world’s largest shade tree. Its crown can reach an astonishing 200-foot diameter! The monkey pod’s easily carved wood is commonly sold and displayed locally in Hawaii. The tree’s large seed pods and sweet flowers are used for feeding cattle in Central America.
The Doerner Fir – One of the Tallest Non-Redwood Trees
This Douglas fir in California, while not the overall tallest, is the loftiest non-redwood tree globally. The Doerner Fir measures a towering 327 feet tall (99.7 meters) and nearly claimed the world record. Additionally, it’s estimated to be around 500 years old, making this fir not just huge but also one of earth’s oldest trees.
The Sitka Spruce – The Fifth Largest Conifer on Earth
Check out the Sitka Spruce – the fifth largest conifer in the world! Just gaze up at how high its canopy stretches into the skies. These spruces grow abundantly in Alaska, so much that they were named the state tree. The tallest Sitka Spruce is northern California’s Raven’s Tower, measuring a massive 315 feet (96.7 meters) high.
Tāne Mahuta – New Zealand’s Colossal Kauri Tree
This New Zealand native, Tāne Mahuta, is one of the largest trees on earth. Named “Lord of the Forest”, this giant kauri stands at 51 meters tall with a circumference of 13.8 meters, estimated to be over 2,500 years old! Its wood was traditionally used for boat building, carving, construction and chewing its sap used as firestarter. When European settlers arrived in the 1700s-1800s, these magnificent forests faced decimation.
Giant Bamboo of China and Southeast Asia
Giant tropical bamboo of the Dendrocalamus genus includes 29 massive species thriving in China and Southeast Asia. Some bamboo stalks in this genus can reach over 150 feet (46 meters) tall! These gigantic bamboos are high-yielding and used abundantly for construction, water pipes, paper, furniture and more. Amazingly, older bamboo stalks won’t increase in height anymore, just produce new leaves annually.
Tasmania’s White Knight – A Majestic White Peppermint
Just shy of 300 feet (90 meters) tall, Tasmania’s White Knight is a last standing ultra-sized white peppermint, uncommon now in Northeast Tasmania. Yet a few groves still exist like the one encompassing this tree giant at Mena Creek. These are super trees said to be growing over 300 years in this Tasmanian reserve. At 91.3 meters high, the White Knight is astonishing!
Malaysia’s Rare Yellow Meranti Emergent
Found in Borneo, the Shorea faguetiana species towers at a record-breaking 310 feet (94 meters) tall. Once Malaysia’s tallest tree, heavy logging by the palm oil industry has decimated this species, now endangered. Research shows degraded rainforests can rebound in 50-100 years.
Menara – The World’s New Tallest Tropical Tree
Discovered in 2019 and named “Menara” (Tower), this Malaysian tree is now considered the world’s tallest tropical flowering plant at 331 feet (100.8 meters) high. However, some dispute whether Menara or Centurion are truly number one. One advantage for Menara is the protective ridge sheltering it – vital for windbreaks, a key constraint on maximum tree heights.
The Ponderosa Pine of Western North America
This rangy pine species, most widespread in North America, grows incredible heights surpassing 200 feet in Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest. Also called the bull pine, blackjack pine or yellow pine, it’s a major timber resource, especially in the Southwest. Typically ranging 55-90 feet tall and living 400 years, these pines always make an impressive sight!
Borneo’s Previous Record Holder – S. johorensis
This Borneo species in Tawau Hills Park was formerly the tallest measured tree until surpassed by its relative, Menara. While this species has no edible or medicinal uses, it does produce hard resin for waterproofing boats, binding baskets and fuel. Related Singapore species Shorea johorensis is critically endangered – identify its prominent winged fruit!
Tasmania’s Mighty Brown Top Stringybark
Also known as Tasmanian oak, the tallest of these eucalyptuses reaches 295 feet (90 meters). It’s mostly used for paper pulp and construction from its strong timber. Typically between 200-300 feet tall, the thick stringy bark trunk reaches 10 feet diameter. Branches exceed 80mm diameter but thin upper branches sport smooth gray bark.
Dinizia Excelsa – A Giant From the Amazon
The tallest measured specimen of this semi-deciduous rainforest canopy tree species, found along Brazil and Peru’s border in the Amazon basin, reaches 200 feet (60 meters) high. Its incredibly durable timber is traded globally, possessing immense strength. Mature trees have cylindrical trunks up to 10 feet diameter and 3 feet at the base.
The Soaring Heights of the Western Hemlock
This large native North American evergreen commonly matures around 100-150 feet tall with a trunk diameter up to 4 feet wide. However, the oldest growth trees on optimal sites can exceed heights of 300 feet tall and trunk diameters greater than 10 feet wide, with ages exceeding 800 years!
Borneo’s Shorea faguetiana Emergent
Borneo is also home to giant tropical tree Shorea faguetiana, harvested for its hard, durable yellow resin and timber. While not commercially used itself, it remains an impressive dominant rainforest tree reaching 270 feet (82 meters) tall, as measured in Sabah’s Tawau Hills Park.
Tasmania’s Record-Breaking Blue Gum
Eucalyptus globulus, best known as the blue gum tree, is hugely popular for pulp and oil production. Native to Tasmania, it’s been measured to heights of at least 330 feet (100 meters). This towering blue giant actually verges on cleared logging areas! Luckily, Tasmanian law spares cutting trees over 280 feet, including the protected “Mother and Daughter” trees.
The Legendary Giant Sequoia Trees of California
Also dubbed Sierra redwoods, these wonderfully tall trees only naturally occur on America’s west coast, growing over 250 feet with trunk diameters up to 27 feet wide! These giant sequoias are tourist attractions for their epic proportions. The famed General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park is believed 2,000+ years old.
Hyperion – The World’s Tallest Known Living Tree
Discovered in 2006, this coast redwood is the tallest known living tree, keeping its location secret in Redwood National Park to prevent damage. Living among other massive trees like Helios and Icarus, Hyperion’s height remains exact to protect it, but it’s still growing over 1 centimeter annually.
Why are Tall Trees so Significant?
These towering titans provide invaluable ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits, from supplying oxygen, stabilizing soil, providing wildlife habitat and building materials to drawing awe-struck visitors. Simply put, these arboreal wonders make indispensable global contributions yearly.