See the New Tallest Tree in Asia, a 335-Foot Cypress

Easily taller than the Statue of Liberty, the behemoth is likely the second-tallest known tree in the world

People standing next to very large tree base
Researchers standing next to the tree at Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon National Nature Reserve look small by comparison. Peking University

A newly discovered cypress growing in Tibet is now the tallest known tree in Asia, towering 335 feet above the forest floor in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon Nature Reserve.

Scientists stumbled upon the gigantic specimen—a Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa)—in May, according to a statement from Peking University. For comparison, the cypress is taller than the Statue of Liberty, which is 305 feet tall, as Lydia Smith notes for Live Science.

Because of its staggering height, researchers also believe the cypress may be the second-tallest known tree in the world, trailing behind the 381-foot coastal redwood nicknamed Hyperion, located in California’s Redwood National Park. Discovered in 2006, that tree is now off-limits to visitors, because tourists kept veering off established trails and damaging the delicate forest ecosystem.

The previous record-holder for the tallest tree in Asia was a 331-foot-tall yellow meranti found growing in the Danum Valley Conservation Area of Malaysia. It was nicknamed Menara, which means tower in Malaysian.

But that tree has been bumped off its pedestal by the cypress in Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, the deepest on-land canyon on the planet. The gorge measures up to 19,714 feet deep in some places and has an average depth of 16,000 feet, as Jess Thomson reports for Newsweek.

Photo of very tall tree
The full-length photo of the tree Peking University

Scientists were out looking for tall trees as part of broader conservation efforts in Tibet, which is facing increased pressure from threats like climate change, development and other human activities. By recording the tall trees, they hope to document the region’s current biodiversity, which could help inform protection decisions. The group consists of scientists from Peking University, the Xizijiang Conservation Center and the Shan Shui Conservation Center.

Prior to this recent cypress discovery, the team found two other giants: a 252-foot tree in Medog County in April 2022, followed by a 272-foot fir in southwest China a month later.

They’re using high-tech tools to perform this research, too. After conducting field surveys at Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon Nature Reserve, they made a colorful 3D model of the tree using lidar, a 3D laser scanner and drones. They were also able to capture a full-length photograph of the tree.

Rainbow tree against black background
The 3D model of the Himalayan cypress Peking University

The area where they found the behemoth cypress is home to other giant trees, too—at least 25 that stand more than 295 feet tall, per the researchers. This makes the area “the region with the highest height and distribution density of giant trees in China,” as Vishwam Sankaran writes for the Independent.

Giant trees are rare, the researchers note in the statement, because they have to remain standing through fires, wind, lightning strikes and human intervention, among other possible stressors. But these behemoths play an “irreplaceable role” in forests and have great “ecological value,” per the statement.

“The giant tree itself has a very complex branching system and a vertical structure, which provide ideal microclimates and habitats for some endangered plants and animals,” according to the statement.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.