Wintertime Discoloration of Giant Sequoia Seedlings

Young giant sequoias typically undergo color changes in the winter and early spring. The younger the tree the more susceptible to the color change it is. Trees less than one year old are most often affected. I have seen this condition in trees up to five years old but never in older trees. 

The wintertime discoloration produces a color that is yet to be named by whoever names colors. It has been described as purplish-red, rust, brown, and bronze. Everyone who tries to describe the color struggles with an attempt to describe a color that has yet to be named. The discoloration does not occur every winter. It typically will come on suddenly in the wake of a cold storm after a period of unseasonable warmth. 

Seedlings that are buried in snow do not discolor, only those that are exposed to the wind leading us to believe that the discoloration is the result of freeze drying. The discoloration does not harm the trees it simply brings out a pigment that is already present. The condition will disappear when the temperatures remain warm for an extended period in the spring.