Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Kauri Forest
Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Kauri Forest Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand's signature kauri tree is admired, even revered, for its astonishing size. But the Tane Mahuta, as it is known, is not the world's tallest tree, or its largest, or, at some 2,000 years, even its oldest. Turns out that people everywhere have long engaged in a kind of tree olympics, hauling out tape measures, surveying equipment and calculators to size up spectacular specimens and claim bragging rights. Here are a few of the world's undisputed "champion trees," which outrank all the rest of their kind by one measure or anotheróas far as anyone knows.

TALLEST: A California redwood took the title last year. At 379.1 feet, Redwood National Park's Hyperion bested Stratosphere Giant, in a neighboring park, by almost 9 feet.

STOUTEST: At its fattest, the trunk of "El Árbol del Tule," a Montezuma Cypress in Oaxaca, Mexico, is about 37 feet in diameter.

LARGEST: Actually, the General Sherman Tree, a sequoia in California, is the largest living organism of any kind. It takes up about 52,500 cubic feet and weighs 2.7 million pounds.

OLDEST: Methuselah, a bristlecone pine in California, is more than 4,800 years old.

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