Don’t hurry to change Wikipedia rankings for the largest trees in the world. Turns out there’s more than one way to measure a giant sequoia.
The federal government still considers the General Grant Tree the second-largest tree in the world, despite new research showing The President tree has grown into the No. 2 spot.
The research by Stephen Sillett, a redwood researcher from Humboldt State University, looks at the whole tree. By that measure, the Grant Tree is No. 3 behind The President Tree.
But size rankings in the federal government are traditionally based on trunk size. The hulking General Sherman Tree is No. 1.
And, based on trunks, the Grant Tree is still No. 2, says Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who has studied giant sequoias for over 30 years at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The parks and Giant Sequoia National Monument have most of the remaining natural groves of giants sequoias in the world. By sheer volume, they are the largest trees in the world.
Stephenson, who is considered among the top scientific authorities on the tree, says:
“Because branch volume is quite difficult to measure accurately, size rankings for the biggest sequoias
usually have been based upon trunk volume only. By trunk volume, the General Grant Tree is
second largest and the President Tree is the third largest. If you include branches, the order switches.”