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What's hidden among the tallest trees on Earth? - Wendell Oshiro


4,365 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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When Stephen Sillett was a boy, he took to the forests of Pennsylvania with his brother and grandmother. Looking up into the dense branches and leaves, his curiosity was piqued: What was hidden up there? Wendell Oshiro tells the story of an adult Sillett’s bold (if not a little dangerous) exploration of the canopy of an ancient redwood and details some of the fascinating discoveries he made.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Brief biography of Stephen Sillett:
Professor Stephen Sillett at Humboldt State University in Northern California
Preview of Stephen Sillett featured in National Geographic

Coast Redwood Conservation and Natural History:
The Save the Redwoods League was formed in 1918, “…to protect, restore and conserve our remaining redwood forests.” Less than 5 percent of the original old-growth coast redwood forests remain today, the remnants of the effects of the logging industry starting in the mid-1800’s. The organization provides excellent information of the continuing conservation and education efforts pertinent to the survival of the coast redwoods and its natural history. Their website is an excellent resource for educators who can request free materials on three related tree species: coast redwoods, giant sequoia, and dawn redwoods. Check out their website:

Ancient coast redwood crown biology:
Watch this short video from the National Park Service that provides an overview of the biological diversity found in the coast redwood canopy.
For more detailed information on the natural history and biology of coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), read this article.


Lichens remains a major focus of Stephen Sillett’s research activities. Read about the general information on lichens that Sillett’s grandmother introduced to him as a boy.

Close cousin of the coast redwood, the giant sequoia:

Coast redwoods are closely related to the giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) that populate stretches along the Sierra Nevadas. Although not as tall as the coast redwoods, giant sequoias have the greatest volume of any tree on Earth. The General Sherman Tree is regarded as the largest tree, by volume, in the world.

Richard Preston:

Richard Preston’s bestseller, “The Wild Trees”, chronicled the climbing adventures of Stephen Sillett, from his first climb of a coast redwood in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to the subsequent discovery of the tallest known redwood, and ultimately, the tallest tree on Earth.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Wendell Oshiro
  • Director Jonathan Trueblood
  • Animator Kristofer Boban, Brandon Chamberlain, Nathan Poljak
  • Producer Andrea Sertz Jew
  • Composer Joshua Smoak, Alex Admiral Collier
  • Script Editor Addison Anderson
  • Narrator Michelle Snow

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