Tree height is the upward distance between the tree’s base and the highest point at the top of the tree.
How high can trees grow? Two principal contrary forces affect a tree’s height.
On the one hand, trees “want” to grow as high as possible to overpass neighboring trees, competing for light. On the other hand, gravitation makes it more and more challenging to pull water upwards from the roots to the upper branches and leaves.
A team of biologists from Arizona University estimated the ultimate maximum tree height or the spot where these meeting forces balance out, and a tree ceases growing. This spot is located around 122-130 meters (400-426 feet).
Environmental conditions also dictate a tree’s height. Most trees can grow taller because they are limited by a lack of light, water, or nutrients.
The tallest trees on the planet are California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), reaching up to 116 meters (380 feet) in height.
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Modern technology makes it much easier to measure the height of trees. Scientists from NASA created the map of the height of the planet’s forest, using 2.5 million laser pulse measurements from space.
According to the map, forest heights decrease at a higher elevation and are highest at low latitudes, decreasing in height the farther they are from the tropics (except 40° south latitude in southern temperate rainforests in Australia and New Zealand).
Moreover, the highest forests are concentrated in mountain areas. Mountain areas don’t have agricultural value, and are difficult to log another factor. Moreover, the mountains also serve to increase precipitation and rainfall.
Below are magnificent maps created by Reddit user 7LeagueBoots with tree height treated as elevation to give a sort of canopy topography map.
Western North America
Eastern North America
The highest living trees
Almost all the highest trees are found in only three regions: the Pacific Coast of North America (California and British Columbia), Southeast Asia (particularly Borneo), and southeastern Australia (mainly Tasmania).
Hyperion is the world’s tallest known living tree is 700 years old California tree (Sequoia sempervirens) measured at 115.92 meters (380.3 feet). It is estimated to contain 530 cubic meters (18,600 cubic feet) of wood.
Top 10 tallest living trees by species
|Common name||Latin name||Height, meters||Height, feet||Name of the tallest tree|
|Coast redwood||Sequoia sempervirens||115.92||380.3||Hyperion|
|Yellow meranti||Shorea faguetiana||100.8||331||Menara|
|Mountain ash||Eucalyptus regnans||100.5||329.7||Centurion|
|Coast Douglas-fir||Pseudotsuga menziesii||99.7||327||Doerner Fir|
|Sitka spruce||Picea sitchensis||96.7||317||Raven’s Tower|
|Giant sequoia||Sequoiadendron giganteum||96.3||316||General Sherman|
|Manna gum||Eucalyptus viminalis||92||302||White Knight|
|Southern blue gum||Eucalyptus globulus||90.7||298||Neeminah Loggerale Meena|
|Noble Fir||Abies procera||89.9||295|
|Angelim Vermelho||Dinizia excelsa||88.5||290|