The sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, is a coniferous tree native to the western Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. They are the world's largest single-stem trees by volume. The largest living sequoia, the General Sherman Tree, is 275 feet tall, has a circumference of 102 feet, and is estimated to contain 52,508 cubic feet of wood. Its estimated weight is over 4.6 million pounds.
While the coastal redwood tree has the record for the tallest tree of Earth, sequoias have been measured at over 300 feet in height. While they have the potential to grow even taller, sequoias rarely exceed 275 feet because they typically lose their tops to lightning strikes once they exceed the height of the surrounding trees. It is impossible to accurately determine the age of a living tree, but the ring count on a stump in Sequoia National Forest placed the age of the tree at about 3,200 years at the time of its demise. The Muir snag in the Converse Basin Grove is estimated to have been about 3,500 years old at the time of its death. A large sequoia may have as many as 11,000 cones, and may disperse between 300,000 and 400,000 tiny winged seeds per year. Like other redwoods, sequoias depend upon periodic wildfires to clear away competing vegetation so sequoia seeds can germinate. Since the 1970s, it has been the policy of the National Park Service to set controlled burns to improve the health of sequoia groves.