One of the more magical attributes of a redwood forest is that it creates not only a unique ecosystem on the ground, but also across every inch of space hundreds of feet above the soil! a single tree all on its own can be a living habitat for an astounding number of species.
after redwoods shed their foliage, the majority of its discarded layers accumulate in the branches, slowly decomposing to become canopy soil. this nutrient rich soil is a key ingredient in assisting plant seeds and fungi spores to sprout, high above the earth.
epiphyte species, or plants that grow in trees rather than on the ground, can number in the hundreds, and include lichens, bryophytes, or non-vascular plants such as moss), and vascular plants such as ferns. additional epiphytes like mushrooms, which exist in a kingdom of their own, adorn the limbs and bark of these magnificent beasts.
on the forest floor and alongside the redwood roots beneath the soil one can find amphibians, beetles, crickets, worms, millipedes, spiders and mollusks. soaring once more into the sky, you’ll find the clouded salamander, a species that breathes entirely through its skin and has a prehensile tail for climbing, thriving in the canopy alongside chipmunks, fishers, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, the northern spotted owl, the marbled murrelet and dozens of other species that call this corner of the redwood home.
humankind is still learning about the deeply intricate lives of redwoods and we’re thankful that they are still here for us to learn from.
hericium erinaceus photo by charles kennard.