ECOSYSTEMS > INLAND OREGON > FORESTS
Southern Oregon marks the northernmost boundary of the coastal redwood forests which are dominated by the coast redwood tree. Here, stands of the massive coast redwoods are scattered, often overlapping with other tree species. The greatest expanse of redwood forest actually exists in California, where the largest individuals may be thousands (that’s right — thousands!) of years old.
These trees grow so large that the redwood forests of California and the Pacific Northwest have the greatest amount of biomass on Earth! A typical redwood won’t even reach the forest canopy until it’s about 200 years old.
Although considered a coastal species, redwoods don’t tolerate the salt spray coming off the Pacific Ocean and therefore won’t be found on headlands or other exposed areas. Instead, they grow slightly inland, often behind a protective barrier of Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce. The most dense redwood forests grow on rich alluvial soils. In these areas, trees may grow so thick they prevent other species from taking root. Likewise, the thick canopy casts a perpetual shade, limiting the understory to a few plant species tolerant of low light. Such plants may include Pacific rhododendron, evergreen huckleberry, western sword fern, redwood sorrel and fairy bells.