The definitive map to discover the largest and most beautiful sequoias in Catalonia and Spain

On October 10, 1769, the Franciscan explorer and missionary Joan Crespí Fiol, a member of one of the first expeditions led by Gaspar de Portolà in California, noted in his diary the first known written reference to the existence of some "very tall red wood, unknown trees that have leaves very different from those of cedars.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
02 April 2024 Tuesday 23:20
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The definitive map to discover the largest and most beautiful sequoias in Catalonia and Spain

On October 10, 1769, the Franciscan explorer and missionary Joan Crespí Fiol, a member of one of the first expeditions led by Gaspar de Portolà in California, noted in his diary the first known written reference to the existence of some "very tall red wood, unknown trees that have leaves very different from those of cedars. These giant trees, never seen before by Europeans, would become famous a few years later with the generic name of sequoias, a name that some sources relate to a Cherokee chief named Sequoyah.

The first scientific approach to this tree was written in 1791 by the Czech botanist Tadeas Haenke, a member of the Malaspina expedition, who also collected seeds and possibly participated in the first transport of sequoias to Spain and Europe, according to journalist Antonio Madridejos in one of his notes on the specialized website Trees with History.

The scientific community has been detailing for years that, in reality, there are two species of this subfamily of trees of Californian origin: the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and the redwood or coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).

With more or less luck (depending on environmental conditions such as temperature or water availability), both species have been exported and cultivated in different areas of the planet and thousands of locations are known where these trees grow in forests and gardens, in some cases reaching dimensions similar to the oldest specimens from their country of origin. A study published on March 13 in the journal Royal Society Open Science and highlighted by the BBC (see supplement at the bottom) indicates that 500,000 sequoia trees currently live in the United Kingdom.

The exact number of sequoias that grow in our country is not known, but to discover the location of most of their numbers, the best and most updated map of the sequoias in Spain is undoubtedly the one created and maintained by Antonio Madridejos, naturalist. tree expert and journalist specialized in science and environment.

After many years collecting data and images (many of them original), Madridejos launched the first versions of the redwood map between 2019 and 2020, using an open access Google Maps application. The final version of this map was presented in 2021 and has received more than 75,000 visits. One of the sources of inspiration in this work is the ambitious and detailed specialized website Monumental trees, which has registered more than 60,000 monumental trees from around the world, with more than 152,000 photographs and dozens of expert collaborators, including himself. Antonio Madridejos.

The Map of the Redwoods of Spain, for its part, shows more than 200 locations of the most outstanding specimens of the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum, with a blue color code on the map) and the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens, in red). .

The map indicates locations, that is, points where one or more sequoia trees exist, and in many cases, also data on specific specimens such as the height, perimeter or age of the tree. "It is very difficult to know the exact number of sequoias in Spain, although we know that for example in one of the most famous locations, on Monte Cabezón or Monte Corona (Cabezón de la Sal, Cantabria) there are currently about 850 sequoias," explains Antonio Madridejos.

Among the most famous and tallest specimens on the peninsula, those known as La Reina (46 meters high) and El Rey (41 m) stand out, giant sequoia trees (Sequoiadendrum giganteum) that are found in the gardens in front of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia), indicates the author of this map.

"In Catalonia, among the most spectacular sequoias I would highlight those of Can Casades, in Montseny, which exceed 40 meters in height and one of which has a trunk perimeter of 6.62 meters," explains Antonio Madridejos. In all probability, the largest concentration of sequoias in Catalonia is that of the Masjoan Arboretum, in Espinelves, although in this location the specimens are so close together that it is difficult to appreciate their height in detail.