The fall of the Dyerville giant – giant redwood tree in Dyerville, California – includes related article – The National Register of Big Trees

by Whit Bronaugh

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It wasn’t until 1966 that Dr. Paul Zinke, professor of forestry at the University of California at Berkeley, recognized the Dyerville Giant for the champion that it was. As part of a long-term redwood ecology project, Zinke needed tree measurements for his studies of redwood “plumbing”-how the trees pump and distribute water and nutrients up a gradient over 350 feet high. Having measured most of the tallest redwoods including the Tall Tree, the previous champion and then tallest tree in the world, he had the data to establish the Dyerville tree as the new champion.

After the tree’s demise, Zinke drove up to make measurements and examine the foliage. Surprisingly, he found that the crown had been quite vigorous, growing at a rate of eight inches a year. So, how could a much smaller tree topple the champ?

Park officials said that heavy rains (17 inches in the month the Dyerville champ fell), which saturated and loosened the soil, may have been an important factor. In addition, Zinke noted considerable root rot once the base was exposed. Add to that the normally shallow root system of coast redwoods and the Dyerville Giant’s lean, and all you need is the proverbial straw-a nudge from a small neighbor was more than enough.