Redwood National Park

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Coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens, Cupressaceae) in the fog. Photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Redwood National Park is best known for its namesake coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens, Cupressaceae). These trees are the tallest on earth, regularly exceeding 300 feet in height and sometimes approaching 400 feet.

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Coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens, Cupressaceae) with friend Jim for scale. Photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Capable of living for over 2000 years, coast redwoods once covered over two million acres along the California coast from Monterey Bay to Oregon. The unique geography and climate found here is essential for their growth.

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Fog encroaching on Redwood Creek. Photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Mountain valleys formed by rivers and streams protect redwoods from the wind, and the abundant fog off of the Pacific Ocean provides the constant and vast supply of water they require.

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Coast redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens, Cupressaceae) with the author for scale. Photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

After being extensively logged for over a century, today fewer than five percent of old-growth redwoods remain. While harvested nearly to extinction, many are now protected on federal, state, and private land. Interspersed amid Redwood National Park are Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. Many other state parks protect redwoods, as well, in part thanks to the Save the Redwoods League.

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Coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens, Cupressaceae) along Bald Hills Road. .Photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Redwood National Park is far more than coast redwoods, however. While I had previously visited the redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument and the giant sequoias at Sequoia National Park, the ecology here was very different. The perpetually damp climate at Redwood was distinctly Pacific Northwest, and it hosted a variety of moisture-loving organisms.

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Banana slug (Gastropoda: Ariolimacidae: Ariolimax sp.) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Perhaps most notable were the large, bright yellow banana slugs (Gastropoda: Ariolimacidae: Ariolimax spp.). At almost five inches in length they were hard to miss. Other large invertebrates were also present, including this big ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae: possibly Scaphinotus sp.) that loved to bite:

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Ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae: possibly Scaphinotus sp.) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

There were also these large millipedes (Diplopoda) that were either fighting or mating. I suspect the latter:

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Millipedes (Diplopoda) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Other plants in the forests included bigleaf maples (Acer macrophyllum, Aceraceae)…

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Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum, Aceraceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Pacific rhododendrons (Rhododendron macrophyllum, Ericaceae)…

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Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum, Ericaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

trilliums (Trillium spp., Melanthiaceae)…

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Trilliums (Trillium spp., Melanthiaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis, Rosaceae)…

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Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis, Rosaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

…and Siberian springbeauties (Claytonia sibirica, Portulacaceae):

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Siberian springbeauties (Claytonia sibirica, Portulacaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Redwood National Park also protects dozens of miles of Pacific shoreline:

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Pacific coast near Orick, photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

Here there were many other plants to be found, including silky beach peas (Lathyrus littoralis, Fabaceae)…

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Silky beach pea (Lathyrus littoralis, Fabaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

beach strawberries (Fragaria chiloensis, Rosaceae)…

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Beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis, Rosaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

…and lupine (Lupinus spp., Fabaceae):

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Lupine (Lupinus spp., Fabaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

As is usually the case, I didn’t spend nearly as much time in this national park as I would have liked. At the same time, I was fortunate to see a ton of cool stuff in the limited time I did have. It would seem that the abundance of life I saw in under two hours is a testament to the biodiversity present here.

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Coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens, Cupressaceae) photographed 04/26/2013 at Redwood National Park, California.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Invertebrate Zoology, National Parks, Weather and Climate and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Redwood National Park

  1. bethignaut says:

    As always, thank you for providing such a nice way to begin my day. Particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast between the very big Sequoia and the not so small Banana Slug 😉

    Like

  2. kau says:

    Thanks for the write-up. Given the low amount of rainfall this year, is it very dry already, or is it still damp and lush green?

    Like

  3. Jeremy Sell says:

    It was quite lush when I visited. There was a lot of fog.

    Like

  4. kau says:

    Thanks Jeremy! I was thinking of visiting the park the coming weekend and was wondering it was a good idea.

    Like

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