Sequoia sempervirens 'Loma Prieta Spike' / Loma Prieta Spike coast redwood

Sequoia sempervirens 'Loma Prieta Spike' is a strongly growing, robust, upright weeping selection of coast redwood with a dominant central leader and cloaked (weeping) lateral branching. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 20 feet (6 m) tall and 6 feet (2 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 2 feet (60 cm) or more. While superficially similar to Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum,’ this conifer has less of a meandering growth habit; it grows straight skyward, creating stunning exclamation point in the landscape.

This cultivar originated as a natural mutation found in the late 1980s by Allan Korth, a former nurseryman formally of Soquel, California. He named the plant around the time of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and its notable “spike” in the Richter scale. He found the mother plant in near the epicenter in the vicinity Loma Prieta Peak in the Nisene Marks Forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Saratoga Horticultural Foundation, California, is credited with introducing it to the nursery trade.

When first released to the trade, it was mistakenly called 'Loma Prieta'. Several places were calling it such. It was also briefly called 'Stricta' which violates the rules of nomenclature pertaining to use of Latin cultivar names post-1959. When found in the nursery trade, this conifer will almost always be seen named 'Mt. Loma Prieta Spike'. It is not known how this error in nomenclature came to be.

Sequoia sempervirens 'Loma Prieta Spike' — a nice mature specimen in a private garden in Roseburg, Oregon.
Photo by David Olszyk
Sequoia sempervirens 'Loma Prieta Spike' — a nice mature specimen in a private garden in California.
Photo by Sherry Austin


Sherry Austin

I feel I have to make a correction to the name here. It was named for the spike in the Richter scale made during the Loma Prieta Earthquake. It was found in the Nisene Marks Forest near the epicenter of the 1989 quake, not Loma Prieta Mtn, which is, the best I can figure, is 5-6 miles N/E, as the crow flies. He named for the earthquake, not the mountain. Allan Korth lived down the road from me, and this is what he told me about 10 years ago. There are 6 trees that he propagated from the original on his former property on Soquel-San Jose Rd in Soquel, CA. Cuttings from these went to Saratoga Horticultural Foundation, who in turn sold the first trees to the public.

Maxwell Cohn

thank you for the input, Sherry. I decided to change the record based on your compelling evidence. I feel badly for all of the nurseries and gardeners who now have to change their plant tags.

Ronald Schlak

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