How tall can a tree grow?

The world’s tallest tree is found in northern California – it’s a redwood that stands 115 meters (379 feet) tall. This tree and its relatives are the largest single organisms in the world, but just how big can these trees really get?

Trees might go on growing forever if it wasn’t for gravity. The higher up trees grow, the more energy is needed to transport water from the root system to its leaves up top. That means the leaves will get smaller and smaller, until the amount of energy they can gain from photosynthesis is outweighed by the energy expended in order to haul up water in the first place. At that point, there’s no point for the tree to keep growing, and it stops.

So what, precisely, is the upper limit for the world’s biggest trees? According to biologists, the cutoff point is somewhere between 122 (400) and 130 meters (426 feet). Learn more here.

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