Forests are pleasant places in nature. They are the home for a wide variety of plants and animals, and provide the planet with fresh air, as the trees release oxygen in their process of photosynthesis. Researchers have recently analyzed the controversial albino redwoods in California and discovered the benefits of these unique trees.
Albino redwood trees can only survive if they are attached to normal redwood trees. Like any other albino species, the redwood trees have white foliage instead of the usual green one. They are about ten feet tall and feed on the sap provided by the host. Some of the trees can be entirely white, while others can be yellowish. Scientists also noted that there could be “hybrid” types, with half of their foliage white, and the other half green.
Specialists consider albino redwoods to be genetic mutations. There are about four hundred such trees in California, but not many people know about their location. Experts tend to protect the trees, as they are unique and rare.
Researcher Zane Moore took a closer look at the needles of albino trees in his lab. He discovered that the tiny, pointy leaves contained unexpected levels of poisoning metals. Nickel, copper, and cadmium are three of this toxic elements that the albino redwood trees encode in their leaves.
Based on these results, scientist Zane Moore was able to understand one of the great benefits of the Californian albino redwoods. It seems like the trees are extracting these toxins from the soil, thus clearing it. On the other hand, the trees are contaminating themselves while keeping the soil healthy for the other plants.
Researchers are quite enthusiasts by the discovery, as they initially though that albino redwoods were parasite structures with no beneficial function whatsoever. Zane intends to carry on with his study, as he wants to find out whether there are other toxic substances which these trees extract from the soil, such as mercury, for instance.
Specialists also wonder why there aren’t more albino redwood individuals. In light of the recent discoveries, researchers compare these trees with sponges absorbing toxins from the soil. They also think that the way in which the albino plants function is similar to that of kidneys and liver in our organism.
Albino redwoods are rare and people have always been curious about them. Since they have proved themselves quite useful, researchers consider the possibility of cloning them. If there are many albino redwood trees, the soil will be healthier.
Image courtesy of: Flickr