A giant sequoia tree is thriving in a surprising place: Northern Michigan

Author: Justine Lofton
Source: Visit Site
A giant sequoia tree is thriving in a surprising place: Northern Michigan

There’s a surprisingly large tree thriving Up North near the shore of Lake Michigan: A 75-year-old giant sequoia.

The tree, planted in 1948 in Manistee Township, is 116 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter, said Jim Cowan, president of the nonprofit Lake Bluff Farms, 2890 Lakeshore Road in Manistee Township. Its 75th birthday party will be held 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday-Tuesday, June 29-July 4, as part of the Manistee National Forest Festival.

The Michigan Champion giant sequoia is an anomaly.

Scientists are baffled as to how it has flourished so far from its home range – the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains – in an area that’s much colder than what sequoias normally withstand, Cowan said.

And it’s not the only one. There are two other giant sequoias – each approaching 100 feet tall – that survived the 1948 planting by the Gray family. The Grays planted 80 species of trees in their arboretum on the property.

The family donated the property in 1983

Today, the arboretum includes the three thriving giant sequoias, a 30-foot-tall baby sequoia and a dawn redwood, Cowan said. Over the past two years, the nonprofit planted 15 giant sequoia clones donated by Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in Copemish.

One is a clone of the 116-foot Michigan tree. Another is a clone of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Tree, which is located in the Alder Creek Grove at Giant Sequoia National Monument in California; it is the fifth largest tree in the world. There are also several clones of the Waterfall tree, which had the biggest trunk of any sequoia; it was lost in a wildfire.

While Manistee’s giant sequoia is considered large, it’s smaller than its Californian counterparts, which have grown to an average 250 to 275 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet in diameter. They generally reach 100 to 150 feet tall by the time they’re 50 years old.

Still, it’s the largest giant sequoia east of the Rocky Mountains and it could be very important, Cowan said. Sequoias are known as big-time users of carbon dioxide, removing up to 10 times more from the atmosphere compared to other trees. Clones of the Manistee tree could allow sequoias to be planted around the world, he said.

You can see the phenomenon for yourself by visiting Lake Bluff Farms, 2890 Lakeshore Road in Manistee Township. It is open daily from dawn to dusk. There’s no admission fee, but the organization does ask for donations.