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(12,704 posts)
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:17 PM Dec 2012

Fantastic story. Told by scientists that ancient giant Sequoias & Redwoods couldn't be cloned,

father and son team persevered and have now proven those scientists wrong. In fact on December 4th Archangel Ancient Tree Archive completed the historic first planting of a Champion Redwood & Sequoia Forest on the southern Oregon coast with exact genetic duplicates of some of the largest champion redwood and sequoia trees in the world.


Among the dozens of unique individual tree clones to be planted in the first forest will be a duplicate of the Fieldbrook Redwood –- a giant tree cut down in 1890 that measured 32.5 feet in trunk diameter and would have surpassed the General Sherman Sequoia as the largest tree on Earth.

“It’s amazing for one layman to come up with the idea of saving champion trees as a meaningful way to address the issues of biodiversity and climate change. This could be a grass roots solution to a global problem. A few million people selecting and planting the right trees for the right places could really make a difference.”— Dr. Rama Nemani, Earth Scientist

CBC Radio interview with David Milarch begins at about 11 minutes into this clip. Enjoy


Archangel Ancient Tree websire


18 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Fantastic story. Told by scientists that ancient giant Sequoias & Redwoods couldn't be cloned, (Original Post) snagglepuss Dec 2012 OP
Heard this story on NPR last weekend. Really cool. n/t FSogol Dec 2012 #1
I, for one, welcome our new giant tree overlords... n/t PoliticAverse Dec 2012 #2
Hats off to Dr. Rama Nemani. If in his place were a teabagger or Repug, they would have sworn that. BlueJazz Dec 2012 #3
I own a redwood timber ranch. They are far more like a weed than any tree I've seen. Gregorian Dec 2012 #4
I live right next to a redwood forest; they grow in my yard REP Dec 2012 #10
I really hate when I hear so called scientists say that something can not be done Drale Dec 2012 #5
Agreed, but it DOES supply motivation Celebration Dec 2012 #8
Scientists didn't think it couldn't be done, however... blatka Dec 2012 #13
Note that Dr. William Libby is one of the authors in the research quoted elsewhere in this thread. PufPuf23 Dec 2012 #18
Coast Redwoods have been cloned for over 25 years and are used operationally. commercial planting PufPuf23 Dec 2012 #6
Milarch cloned dead trees. The one mentioned in the OP was felled 130 years ago. snagglepuss Dec 2012 #7
From the website you posted. PufPuf23 Dec 2012 #9
this species is not extinct, is my understanding. so why the need for the cloning? HiPointDem Dec 2012 #11
Why the need for cloning answer... blatka Dec 2012 #12
Thanks! NYC_SKP Dec 2012 #14
what i'm asking is -- the remaining trees are still producing seeds (or whatever you call them) -- HiPointDem Dec 2012 #17
Excellent. (nt) DirkGently Dec 2012 #15
Its so hard to read about some of those things - "cut down to win a bet"... bhikkhu Dec 2012 #16


(25,348 posts)
3. Hats off to Dr. Rama Nemani. If in his place were a teabagger or Repug, they would have sworn that.
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:23 PM
Dec 2012

..."It's just not possible...the book says it can't happen and I believe it"

Good scientists accept facts even when it proves them totally wrong.


(23,867 posts)
4. I own a redwood timber ranch. They are far more like a weed than any tree I've seen.
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:24 PM
Dec 2012

If someone told me they couldn't be cloned I would say they're nuts. It is seriously hard to kill a redwood.

I've got a sentimental spot in my heart for what was, in those old forests. I've been lucky enough to see the old stumps out in the middle of nowhere. It's really odd to see a 20 foot diameter stump.

By odd I mean how radically different the forests were. Fewer but larger trees. It hurts just to think about what was here.


(21,691 posts)
10. I live right next to a redwood forest; they grow in my yard
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:10 PM
Dec 2012

Not that I want to kill them - I love having them there - but it's good to know they're tough!


(7,932 posts)
5. I really hate when I hear so called scientists say that something can not be done
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:29 PM
Dec 2012

thats such a closed minded statement. We have proved time and time against in history that anything can be done, its only a matter of gaining the knowledge. Ideas change and theory's are proven right or wrong or misguided, so in 100 years we might find someway to go faster than the speed of light even though Einstein said its impossible. Who knows.


(2 posts)
13. Scientists didn't think it couldn't be done, however...
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:59 PM
Dec 2012

...they didn't really try. It's difficult to clone a tree older than about 80 years old. Most commercial nurseries are about making a profit, so they go for the trees that are easy to clone. This is why you see so many sub-standard trees available in traditional nurseries. They want a high success rate in order to make money.

The people at Archangel had a hunch that it could be done and they thought it would be worthwhile for many reasons besides making money. They spent the time and effort it took it figure it out. One of Archangel's science advisors, the esteemed William Libby, forest genetics professor emeritus with UC Berkeley is the scientist that made the statement you're questioning above. He was brought on to advise Archangel about what steps to take to make this cloning of ancient trees happen.

There is a video here called "Propagation" which features Dr. Libby where he addresses this issue:



(8,980 posts)
18. Note that Dr. William Libby is one of the authors in the research quoted elsewhere in this thread.
Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:06 AM
Dec 2012

Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) has notably poor seed viability and most natural regeneration is by coppice (sprouting, a natural form of cloning common to aspen and tanoak among other species). Much of the current 2nd or later growth redwood forests are natural clones of the original forests.

The poor coast redwood seed viability and difficulty in seed collection led to early research on cloning for commercial planting.

Most commercial conifer nurseries are based upon seedlings grown from seed rather than clones but this is different for coast redwood.

Forest managers, specifically silviculturists, in the redwood region wanted reliable redwood planting stock.

Two problems with relying on sprouts from the original growth forests are sprouting is inversely proportional to diameter (smaller trees more readily sprout) and the extremely large nature of the trees in the original growth forests lead to large gaps without redwood sprouts. It is also important to note that most of the public is accustomed to viewing redwood parklands that are often nearly pure and on lower elevations and alluvial flats along whereas a significant portion of later redwood logging is on slopes where redwood is mixed with Douglas-fir, grand-fir, western hemlock, red cedar, and, close to the coast, Sitka spruce.

The regenerated mixed stands have a greater component of redwood because of the advantage of sprouting and because the wide spacing are filled in with planted redwood because of the value, rapid growth, and ease of regeneration in commercial redwood forests.

Coast redwood cloning technology was in place. What is unique to this group is concentration on developing clones from "champion" sized trees. I have visited 100 plus year old plantings of redwood in the northern Pyrennees of France and in Wales and the stands look much like Humboldt county, CA. If one plants redwood outside the fog belt, the trees are limited by physics of water conduction in absolute height growth.

I actually took Forest Genetics from Dr. Libby nearly 40 years ago at Cal and live less than 15 miles from the Tall Tree Grove of Redwood National Park.


(8,980 posts)
6. Coast Redwoods have been cloned for over 25 years and are used operationally. commercial planting
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:29 PM
Dec 2012

Coast redwoods most often reproduce by natural cloning as a species characteristic is reproduction after harvest or fire by coppice (sprouting). The cloning trial in the research below began in 1984.

Forest Genetic Resources No 23.

J. E. Kuser, A. Bailly, A. Franclet, W. J. Libby, J. Martin, J. Rydelius, R. Schoenike, and N. Vagle


180 clones of Sequoia sempervirens, representing 90 provenance locations throughout the natural range and elevations from 24 m to 945 m, are being tested for survival and height growth at 3 plantation sites in the U.S., 2 in France, and plots in Spain, Britain, and New Zealand. Early results indicate that provenances from the north end of the range survive best in South Carolina and suffer less frost damage in northern France. Provenances from Humboldt County have grown relatively tall at Brookings, Oregon; Lafayette, California; and Etançon, France. Although there are no full scale plantations of the test at warmer locations, hedge orchards at Davis, California and Malissard, France indicate that more southern provenances (Santa Cruz and Monterey counties) may grow as fast or faster on warm sites. Preliminary recommendations for seed collections in Del Norte and Napa counties are made for further testing of cold tolerance, but it is not yet possible to recommend sources for warmer areas.


Figure 1. Range of coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens (Little, 1971)

Redwood is one of the world's botanical wonders. The tallest tree in the world is a 110 m redwood in Redwood National Park, near Orick, California (American Forests, 1990). Redwood is a fire-adapted species with thick, fire-resistant bark and the ability to stump-sprout from a ring of burl tissue which surrounds the root-collar zone. It is unlike most conifers in this sprouting ability, and can grow new branches along its entire trunk to replace any killed by fire (Burns and Honkala, 1990).Coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens (D.Don.) Endl. is one of the temperate zone's fastest growing trees. On the best sites, redwood can produce 30 m3 of wood per hectare per year (Fritz, 1945). Because redwood heartwood is decay-resistant, it is used for outdoor products such as siding, decking, garden furniture, stakes, shakes, and slatsfor air-conditioning cooling towers. Its decay resistance and beauty make redwood lumber worth more than pine or Douglas-fir. In California, for example, late 1992 retail lumber yard prices for "construction" grade redwood averaged 77 percent higher than those for comparable Douglas-fir; and for "clear" grades, redwood prices were 20 percent higher than Douglas-fir's.
California State Tax Board values for second-growth redwood logs averaged 148 percent of the value of Douglas-fir logs of the same dimensions, 230 percent of those for sugar and ponderosa pine (Pinus lambertiana and P. ponderosa) and 1148 percent of those for radiata (P. radiata) and shore pine (P. contorta var. contorta) (Libby, 1993).
Besides being valuable for timber, redwood is a spectacular tree which attracts many visitors to 100,000 hectares of state and national parks (Dewitt, 1985).

Before the Pleistocene, redwood or its close relatives were widespread, occurring in Europe, Asia, and North America (Chaney, 1934). Today, however, Sequoia sempervirens is confined to a narrow 720-km strip of the California and Oregon coast, extending 30 to 60 km inland. (Little, 1971) (see Figure 1). It was once thought that redwood grew in this belt because it needed the region's summer fog in order to survive; but more than 100 years ago, it was being successfully grown at Placerville, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and outside California at Seattle, Washington, Victoria, British Columbia, and Hawkinsville, Georgia (Kuser, 1981). It is now known that redwood can be grown in many parts of western Europe and in the Crimea, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, Tasmania, and in the tropics at high enough elevation to provide temperate climate. As efforts to grow redwood in many parts of the world get underway, information on provenance differences becomes urgent. Use of the right or wrong seed source can spell the difference between success and failure with exotics (Zobel et al., 1988). The earliest provenance test of redwood was started in 1961 by Muelder and Hansen with seed of 10 populations from the central and north coast of California (Millar et al., 1985). It was evident to us by 1983 that a rangewide collection was warranted, with testing at locations in the temperate zones wherever there was interest in growing this species.


In 1984, we made a 180-clone collection of redwood funded by the American Philosophical Society. Originally we intended to collect seeds for the test, but soon realized that this would be impossible in many parts of the range where the trees rely on stump-sprout regeneration and produce cone crops infrequently. We then decided to collect seedlings and use vegetative propagation to produce ramets for test plantations. This strategy had the advantage of removing one source of variation from analysis of results. As far as possible, we collected juvenile seedlings, no larger than 50 cm tall, in order to avoid cyclophysis.

more at: http://www.haabet.dk/users/sequoia/testsequ.html


(12,704 posts)
7. Milarch cloned dead trees. The one mentioned in the OP was felled 130 years ago.
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 07:36 PM
Dec 2012

Added. I'm not a scientist but I believe that is the difference.


(8,980 posts)
9. From the website you posted.
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:07 PM
Dec 2012

Last edited Thu Dec 13, 2012, 02:54 AM - Edit history (1)

I agree that the project is a good thing but the clones including the Fieldbrook tree are from living materials.

We utilize a variety of propagation techniques to capture the genetic traits of the old growth trees we collect. Depending on the species we may try vegetative propagation, grafting, micropropagation or root cuttings. With each new species we are mapping the propagation process to be able to produce clones from the parent tree. This requires a lot of trial and error along with patience and tenacity on the part of our propagators. Most trees aren’t propagated when they are very old, so this presents a challenge to us. Propagating from juvenile material is typically much easier. We have a standing joke at our lab in Michigan that propagation is the art of not killing a plant the same way twice.


Fieldbrook Redwood Stump | 32.15' dbh
This page is an off-shoot of Largest Coast Redwoods. Below is the Fieldbrook Stump from a coast redwood in Humboldt County. 9.8 meters wide 1.5 meters above the ground. 32.15 feet. In the book The Redwood Forest: History, Ecology, and Conservation of the Coast Redwood, Reed F. Noss wrote "some observers, however, believe this stump to be two". Michael Taylor, co-discoverer of Lost Monarch (largest coast redwood known today), said the Fieldbrook stump was one redwood. Lost Monarch is almost 26 feet wide. For comparison, the Fieldbrook redwood is over 5 feet wider. This redwood was wider than General Sherman, and if the trunk taper was minimal, could have dwarfed that Giant Sequioa. This Humboldt county redwood sprouted from roots. The sprouts will be genetically the same as the parent plant. Imagine how much lodging could have been framed from this 1 coast redwood. Apparently the Fieldbrook redwood was cut down to settle a bar bet. A businessman from Britain claimed he could find a single cross-cut section of timber that could seat 40 dinner guests at one time. And for that reason, was chopped down in the 1890s and a huge slice of trunk brought back overseas. See the main redwood page to find more about the 10 largest coast redwoods remaining today.


edit to add bold


(2 posts)
12. Why the need for cloning answer...
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 08:50 PM
Dec 2012

Ninety eight percent of the old growth redwood forests have been chopped down, and much of what remains is not protected. With only 2% of the old growth trees left and many still under threat, Archangel is choosing to clone and replant the genetics from these trees so that they can be studied in the future before they become extinct.

Archangel co-founder David Milarch posed the question: "If you were down to 2% of your life savings, wouldn't it be time to do something?" Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has chosen not to stand by, but to act to save these genetics for study in the future. There is much science doesn't know about these trees, so they want to give future generations the opportunity to learn from the incredible trees that are able to live for thousands of years.

Make sense?

Here's a video about this very topic - on this page called Why Ancient Trees?




(20,729 posts)
17. what i'm asking is -- the remaining trees are still producing seeds (or whatever you call them) --
Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:58 AM
Dec 2012

why not just plant those?

seems to me the problem is logging and habitat space rather than genetics or ability to clone.

it doesn't quite make sense to me; and with genetic material patentable these days, i just have a weird feeling...

if the point is to plant more trees (as seems to be the thrust of the article), then cloning is unnecessary.

if the point is to preserve & study the genetic material, then why not say so instead of talking about how planting a cloned tree is going to 'save the planet'?

it just doesn't seem quite straightforward to me. i am a suspicious type.

and as another poster said, coast redwoods have been cloned for years and the use is commercial. so what is the use here? cloning an impressive dead individual of the same species...why?


(10,739 posts)
16. Its so hard to read about some of those things - "cut down to win a bet"...
Wed Dec 12, 2012, 11:36 PM
Dec 2012

I read a history of the Converse Valley logging operation (in another area of California) a while back, where a whole valley of ancient redwoods was logged off. Building the flumes and all the infrastructure was a massive undertaking, the waste was tremendous as the big trees were prone to shatter when they were brought down, and right around the time when they were getting to the last of the forest there, the whole operation went under, sunk by debt. What a waste...

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