Redwood Database

An index of all Redwood cultivars both in and out of commercial production.

Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum’

Giant Redwood

Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum’, commonly known as Weeping Giant Redwood, is a cultivar that elicits strong opinions and reactions from horticulturists and garden enthusiasts alike. The late Sir John Ropner of Thorp Perrow, North Yorkshire, UK, is credited with the quip that the purpose of ‘Pendulum’ in any garden or arboretum is “to make every other tree look better!” This statement, regardless of its origin, underscores the divisive nature of this cultivar, which shares a similar reputation with other strictly weeping clones of otherwise elegant trees, such as the Weeping Mulberry.

Horticultural literature is replete with descriptive and often unflattering terms for Weeping Giant Redwood. W.J. Bean, in his restrained manner, referred to them as “weird forms” (Bean 1981), while Jacobson more bluntly described them as “a leaning freak, flopping and sprawling about” (Jacobson 1996). Both authors acknowledge the existence of both unattractive and passable versions of this cultivar. The latter can develop into “an extraordinary tree with an erect leader and weeping branches hanging close to the stem, forming a narrow spire” (Bean 1981). Remarkable specimens of this form once grew in Arboretum Gaston Allard in Angers, France, and another at Bodnant, north Wales, which reached an impressive height of 35 m in 2016, having been planted in 1890 (Tree Register 2024).

In the second form, likely the one Sir John Ropner was alluding to, “the main stem leans or undulates and gives off some more or less vertical branches” (Bean 1981). It is this form that Jacobson aptly described as a “leaning freak”. When grown in this manner, plants develop such bizarre and unique shapes that no two specimens are ever identical.

Bean, citing Hillier, suggested that the latter form might be the result of grafting onto Sequoia sempervirens rootstock. However, this explanation seems improbable and has not been mentioned in more recent and authoritative accounts, such as the RHS Encyclopaedia of Conifers (Auders & Spicer 2012).