Personal photo taken near Prairie Creek State Park

Classification of Sequoia sempervirens

Personal photo of coast redwoodsDomain: Eukarya is one of the three domains into which all organisms are classified. Eukarya refers to organisms whose cells are organized into complex structures surrounded by membranes. The presence of a nucleus is what separates eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic cells.

Kingdom: The coast redwood is placed under the kingdom Plantae, which includes all land plants such as mosses, ferns, conifers, flowering plants, etc.

Phylum: The coast redwood is classified under the phylum Coniferophyta. Coniferophyta is the largest of the gymnosperm phyla. They are cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue. The coast redwoods, like most conifers, are evergreen. This means they retain their leaves throughout the year. Other conifers are deciduous trees that lose their leaves each autumn.

Coast redwoods are placed under the class Pinopsida, which also falls under the class Coniferopsida, cone-bearing gymnosperms dating from the Carboniferous period. The class Pinopsida is characterized by relatively small, always simple leaves, and by the secondary growth of the root and stem.

Order: For
the coast redwood, the order is Pinales. This order consists of all the extant conifers and was formerly identified as the Coniferales. The unique characteristic of this particular order is the production of the reproductive structure known as a cone.

Family: Sequoia sempervirens is included within the family Taxodiaceae. Members of this family are coniferous trees. Recently though, studies of molecular evolution and nuclear genes suggest that this family combine with the cypress family, Cupressaceae. All genre included in this family are related by having seed cones in which each scale is fused with its bract, the ovules are erect, and the paired seed wings, if present, come from the seed coat. 

Genus: Sequoia is the genus of the coast redwood. For years after its discovery it was thought to be a kind of baldcypress. In 1847, Austrian botanist Stephen Endlicher classified the coast redwood as a separate genus, which he named after the Cherokee leader Sequoya. Why he did so is unclear. S. sempervirens is the single extant species of the genus Sequoia.

Species: The species Sequoia sempervirens was named for the Georgian Indian tribal chief who invented the Cherokee alphabet. The Latin word sempervirens means "always green," or "evergreen." Common names for this species include Coast redwood and California redwood. The term redwood refers to the color of the tree's bark and heartwood.

Morphological phylogeny of coast redwood

Cladistic tree

Where in the world is Sequoia sempervirens? If you are asking yourself this very question, visit the next page on Habitat and Geography!

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