This site refers to the three types of Redwood by the names commonly used in the U.K:
Giant Redwood / Giant Sequoia / Wellingtonia
Coast Redwood / Redwood
The Obsession with Natives
It is rather unfortunate that many of England's woodland organisations and conservation groups have a dislike of trees that they deem to be non-native to this country. As a result of this bias, many of our parks and new woodlands are denied the variety and interest that other trees such as Giant Redwoods can bring. This really is a great shame, since it misses the opportunity to draw the public's interest by including unusual or spectacular specimen trees from across the world. After all - variety, it is said, is the spice of life!
The basis for whether a tree is deemed as Native could also be seen as rather fanciful. The last ice age killed off most trees in this country, and as the ice slowly receded back up through Europe and Britain, trees and other vegetation from the south gradually spread northward and started to re-populate the country. Around 6000 years ago conditions changed and the English channel was formed, thus halting this drift. Species of tree that happened to have crossed by the time Britain was cut off from Europe became established and were subsequently deemed as being native to this country. Fossil evidence, however, demonstrates that the enormous Redwood trees were growing in Britain millions of years ago. The Dartmoor National Park Authority states that "between 65 and 2 million years ago, during the Tertiary period, Dartmoor was nearer the Equator and although the climate varied it was predominantly hot and wet." Perhaps the Giant Redwood is an ideal tree to re-introduce as we are told that our climate is beginning to return to these types of conditions.
English Nature mentions "The flora, which probably grew on the mountainous slopes of Dartmoor and in the valley flood plain is dominated by redwood conifers..."
The late Alan Mitchell (an acclaimed dendrologist) expressed the case for non-native specimen trees in a very eloquent manner. He pointed out that the native trees will continue to self-seed and re-generate quite happily without our intervention; it is the unusual and exotic trees which deserve and need our attention. As delightful as our traditional "English woodland" may be, there is always the possibility of it appearing a little monotonous in the eyes of much of the public. What better way can there be to stimulate interest in the environment than a scattering of nature's more stunning trees.
"If we want the noble spires of giant sequoias and grand firs to tower out of the monotonous domed tops of so much of our woodland, the delights of walking in larch woods, and of monumental cedars of Lebanon to grace our towns and parks, we must plant them." Alan Mitchell, The Rationale for Planting Exotic Trees from "The Tree Book" by J. Edward Milner.
Who can deny the appeal of the majestic Giant Redwood towering over the edge of a park, with its immense stature and its soft, golden bark. Or a grand old cedar with its sparse but spreading canopy, offering shade without blocking the views. As for the Horse Chestnut (yes another non-native!), it may not be exotic but what child would not thrill at the sight of a carpet of freshly-fallen conkers?
Although many of the the exotic and unusual non-native trees thrive in the English weather, they often cannot germinate or propogate without the huge forests or the peculiar weather conditions of their home environment. The small effort required to get them past their initial stage of development is well worth the effort - so go on, grow yourself a Redwood this year!