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Cloned giants

Conservationists plant a 'super grove' of redwood trees cloned from ancient stumps

A new "super grove" of endangered coast redwood trees has arisen in California, thanks to a nonprofit group that planted 75 saplings at a park in San Francisco.

Since their species is endangered, any new community of coast redwoods would be welcome news. Yet these 75 saplings are also newsworthy for another reason: They're all clones, born of DNA that conservationists retrieved from ancient redwood stumps. Now growing together at the Presidio of San Francisco, they carry on a valuable genetic legacy that dates back thousands of years.

The trees were planted on Dec. 14 by Archangel Ancient Tree Archive (AATA), a nonprofit group that creates "living libraries of old-growth tree genetics." Each sapling was sourced from one of five ancient stumps in Northern California, remnants of redwoods that were all larger than the largest tree standing today, a giant sequoia known as General Sherman. After discovering the stumps were still alive, AATA co-founder David Milarch and his team led an expedition to clone them.
     — Russell McLendon
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