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Tree Superlatives

People love superlatives.

We want to know which car is fastest, which athlete is strongest, or which CEO is the richest, even though the results have very little bearing on our lives. And of course, who can forget the superlatives section of their high school yearbook, where we decided who was the most popular, who was the most likely to succeed, and who was the funniest?

While such facts may represent nothing more than trivial knowledge, they do encourage people to learn more about trees. As far as we are concerned, that is always a good thing.  

With that in mind, we decided to bring you a list of some of the most interesting tree superlatives. You can find all of this information scattered about the internet, but we have gathered a number of examples right here for your perusing enjoyment. 

Are there any superlatives we left out? Let us know on our social media pages, and we will do our best to track down the answers (and while you are leaving a comment, go over and “like" our Facebook page if you haven’t already—we put lots of great stuff there!)

Size-Related Tree Superlatives

Majestic Redwoods of San Francisco

Hyperion, the Tallest Living Tree

Tallest Living Tree

The world’s tallest living tree is Hyperion, a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), located on a hillside in Redwood National Park. 

Living Tree with Greatest Girth

El Árbol del Tule—a Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico—is about 119 feet around the trunk at about five feet above the ground, which gives it the greatest girth of any living tree. Its diameter is an astounding thirty-eight feet. 

Greatest Tree Girth Recorded

Although now broken and in three different pieces, the “Tree of the Hundred Horses," in Sicily, Italy, formerly held the title for greatest tree girth. In 1780, this European chestnut (Castanea sativa), which also holds the titles for oldest and largest living chestnut, was measured and the trunk was found to have a circumference of 190 feet. 

Tree with Fastest Growth

Spring Blossoms in San Francisco

A Flowering Princess Tree - Photo by Wikimedia Images

The princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) is the fastest-growing tree, and has been documented in some cases to grow almost one foot in three weeks.

Widest Crown

The tree with the largest crown is somewhat unclear. A eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus microtheca) in Australia—known as the “Monkira Monster"—had a 239-foot-wide crown in 1954.

The “Great Banyan Tree" is a banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) in India that sprawls over an area of about 3 ½ acres. The main trunk of the tree was removed due to fungal colonization in the 1800s, so it remains as a “tree colony" rather than a single-trunked tree. 

By contrast, a monkey pod tree crown (Samanea saman) in Venezuela has been measured at approximately 200 feet.

Largest Tree (volume)

The living tree with the greatest volume is another California native, called "General Sherman." A giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), General Sherman contains about 54,000 cubic feet of wood. 

Age-Related Tree Superlatives

Ancient Bristlecone Pine - SF Landscape

Methuselah, the Oldest Living Tree, Whose Exact Location is Secret

Oldest Living Single Tree

“Methuselah" is the oldest living individual tree, with an estimated age of 4,600 years. Methuselah is a bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) living somewhere in the White Mountains of California. 

Oldest Living Clonal Tree

A stand of Huon pines (Lagarostrobus franklinii) growing in Tasmania, Australia holds the record for the oldest living clonal trees. While the oldest individual trees in the grove are about 4,000 years old, the entire colony has been alive for the past 10,500 years. 

Oldest Tree Ever Documented

A dead bristlecone pine named “Prometheus" is the tree with the longest known lifespan. The tree, which was cut down in 1963, was estimated to be 5,200 years old.  

Earliest Appearing Extant Tree Species

The maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba) first evolved about 160 million years ago in the Jurassic Period (long before T-Rex roamed the Earth), and it still grows in parks and backyards to this day.

Autumn Splendor in San Francisco

An Autumnal Gingko Tree in a Courtyard - Photo by Joylynn Goh on Unsplash

Most Dangerous Tree

The deadly manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella) gets its very own section on this list. It grows in the Florida Everglades, through the Caribbean Islands, and into Mexico and Central America. Recognized as the world’s most dangerous tree by the Guinness Book of World Records, manchineel trees not only produce apple-like fruit that can kill, but they are also full of toxic sap that can burn the skin. 


From towering giants to ancient survivors, these remarkable trees not only enhance our understanding of biodiversity but also highlight the importance of conservation. As we continue to explore and celebrate these natural records, let's also commit to protecting and sustaining the environments that allow such extraordinary life forms to thrive. Remember, every tree has a story, and each one contributes uniquely to the rich tapestry of our planet's ecosystems.

That’s all for this installment of Tree Superlatives, but we will visit the subject again in the future. In the meantime, keep Arborist Now in mind for all of your tree care needs. Whether you need emergency tree removal in San Francisco, tree pruning in Millbrae, or commercial tree removal in Larkspur, Arborist Now is here to help. Contact us today!

Originally published on May 31, 2016.

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