Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Wooden Wonders part 11: Wellingtonia

Posted: February 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm Author: Kate Cashmore

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, is full of magnificent trees.

As part of our half term Wooden Wonders event taking place from 14 – 16 February, Kate Cashmore from Westonbirt’s learning team has created a trail which will help you find out about our hidden wonders.

Here, she highlights some of the Wooden Wonders that you can discover when you follow the trail.


The giant redwoods or Wellingtonia that you'll find at Westonbirt grow naturally in California, and have evolved to cope with the forest fires that occur naturally every few years.

The thick fibrous bark is fire-resistant, and the huge mature trees are seldom killed by fire.

The cones need the heat of the fire to make them open, and then the light seeds are released after the fire has passed, onto the burned but richly fertile soil, without competition from other plants.

Nowadays, we also use wood for its fire-resistance. Fire doors are made of wood – usually blockboard or plywood.

Heavy beams in aircraft hangars are also wooden, as timber burns at 1mm per minute, so firemen can predict how long a door or beam will last in a fire, whereas with concrete or metal, you cannot predict the moment of collapse.

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