One of World’s Ten Albino Redwoods Might Be Cut Down

Preservationists in California, however, are fighting to save the tree

An albino redwood in Humboldt Country. Photo: Redwood Coast

Only a few albino redwood trees are known to exist. These trees cannot produce chlorophyll, and their needles appear white. As NPR writes, they are sometimes called "ghost trees" due to their unusual appearance. 

Because the trees are lacking in chlorophyll, they cannot photosynthesize, so the only way they can survive is to latch on to another tree—usually their parent—and siphon nutrients from that donor. Most of the albinos grow two state parks in California. 

Now, one of these trees is under threat. It is fated to be chopped down to make way for a new commuter rail line, Reuters reports. This tree, an albino chimera coast redwood, is one of only ten known albino trees of that species, and stands just over 50 feet high, making it the largest of its kind. Unlike some of the other albinos, Reuters describes, this one has zebra-stripped branches and splotchy patches of needles alternating between white and green. Additionally, Reuters adds, that tree is the only albino chimera coast redwood that is mature enough to produce both male and female pine cones.

When preservationists caught wind of the building plan, they began to protest the project. Rail officials told Reuters that even if they move the railway a bit to navigate around the tree, the stress will likely kill it and it could fall into the tracks. So rather than divert the railway or cancel it all together, they are trying to arrange for the tree to be moved to a new location. "To lose this tree would be an absolutely huge loss to science and the ability to study albinism in redwoods," Tom Stapleton, an arborist who is organizing efforts to save the tree, told Reuters.  

Normally, overzealous tourists looking to take home odd white clippings are the only things the trees—many of whose location is kept a secret—have to worry about, NPR adds. 

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