A long time ago, I heard that the giant trees in the redwood forest have powers. This didn’t surprise me, since every time I’ve walked through redwood forests, the atmosphere is tranquil and soothing, and almost too serene.

So I had to dig into this urban legend a little more. As it goes, there’s a mist that comes off of the trees and falls on everything below. It’s so subtle that you may not see it if you’re inside of it. But if you stand in it long enough, its quiet but venomous quality will slow your systems down, and eventually place you into a deep sleep.

I’ve noticed that when I walk through redwood forests, I do feel very relaxed. Everything is so peaceful. There are hardly any insects or birds flying around, and come to think of it, there are hardly any other plants nearby. It’s as if the redwoods are the sole inhabitants of the forest.

Then I heard some folklore. Native Americans claimed that there was poison in the trees, and warned others that evil spirits lived in the redwood forests.

Although these stories are just urban myth, I admit they bring a deeper quality to the experience of visiting Muir Woods. They amp things up, and make the forest all the more intriguing. The redwoods are earthy and majestic, like gentle giants. They creek and sway when the wind blows through their leaves and branches hundreds of feet above the ground. They’re a quiet yet powerful presence, so it doesn’t surprise me that stories exist about the impact they create for people who come to see them.

I felt I had to do some research to see if I could find out how these stories evolved. I was able to find a few scientific theories that help this all make sense.

It turns out that redwood trees produce and emit a tannin that helps protect their bark, and wards off harmful insects. Because of the lack of insects, there is a lack of birds in the redwood forests, as they leave to find other places with better sources for food.

I also read that redwood trees have been known to carry black mold. I imagine it would be just in those deep, dark, shadowy areas that hardly see daylight. So when people spend a lot of time around redwood trees, they might feel mildly tired from the tannin, and if they have mold allergies, they may feel legitimately sick because of exposure to the airborne mold.

So it appears there is scientific evidence that supports these stories, and perhaps makes them true to some extent. But these are just hypothesis I found from doing just a little bit of casual research online.


The redwoods make me dance!




Written by Suzi Albrecht
Digital Project Manager and Traveler