Tree Facts – Wellingtonia at Compton Verney

Welcome to a page of the Compton Verney Landscape Garden blog, providing information about our Wellingtonia trees.


Henry Verney’s Grand Wellingtonia Avenue at Compton Verney (c) Compton Verney 2014

Plant name:

Sequoiadendron giganteum (synonym: Sequoia gigantea)

Commonly known as:

Wellingtonia; Giant/Sierra/California Redwood


Sierra Nevada, California


Tall growing evergreen conifer, with dark green foliage on down swept branches. The bark is red in colour, having a unique spongy characteristic. Cones are small and hard, to 4cm long.


The Wellingtonia trees at Compton Verney were mostly planted in the second half of the 19th century. This tree species originates from a relatively small area in California, and although John Matthew brought the first seed back to Scotland, its introduction is largely credited to Cornish plant hunter William Lobb who brought seed back to England on behalf of Veitch Nurseries in 1853.

The trees were initially given the name Wellingtonia gigantea, which was in reference to the Duke of Wellington who passed away in 1852, although this name was botanically incorrect and was corrected to Sequoiadendron giganteum some years later following much debate and re-classification. However, that first name has held, and in this country at least it continues to be commonly called Wellingtonia.


The red bark sliced through due to a lightning strike several years ago. (c) Compton Verney

We believe the Wellingtonia’s at Compton Verney were planted soon after they were available, as part of landscape improvements by Henry Verney, who inherited the title 18th Baron Willoughby de Broke in 1862. The avenue is shown on the 1885 1st edition Ordnance Survey map, providing a planting opportunity of some twenty three years – this makes the avenue approximately 140 years old.

Interesting Facts:

  • The girth measurement of one of our avenue trees is over 8m, making it a contender for County Champion!
  • Although a prime candidate for lightning strikes, the bark of the Wellingtonia is fire resistant, which helps it to resist forest fires in its homeland. Additionally, heat generated from forest fires can help to open the cones positioned high in the tree canopy, which triggers seed release in due course.
  • The tallest UK Wellingtonia is in Uig (Benmore), which measures 56.4 metres, although elsewhere in the world one has been recorded at 94.8 metres.
  • Wellingtonia’ s are the world’s largest living things by volume, the record breaking General Sherman in Sequoia National Park holds a staggering 1,486 cubic metres of timber in the trunk alone!
  • The mass of the Wellingtonia is so substantial that following their ‘discovery’ by Europeans, they tolerated the cutting of tunnels through them, allowing cars to pass through!


Collins Tree Guide – Owen Johnson & David More

Wikipedia – Sequoiadendron giganteum 

Compton Verney, Grounds, History of the House

Tree Register

Other tree fact sheets available:

Cedar Trees

Oak Trees

Lime Trees

Thanks for reading our ‘Tree Facts – Wellingtonia at Compton Verney‘ information!