Friday, October 7, 2016

"The mystery of the albino redwood"

SFG:

For the trees' own protection, staff at the park typically don't tell visitors how to find them.

...


Kuty is the unofficial caretaker of Henry Cowell's 11 albinos; he alone knows where each one hides. Some look like haphazardly spray-painted bushes, while others resemble the artificial white trees sold around Christmas. Still others are little more than single, luminous branches high up in the canopy, barely discernible in the shifting morning sun.

...

Redwoods can also clone themselves, further complicating scientists' understanding of them. Vast rings of related plants communicate via their roots, and during the hard months of winter and early spring, they'll distribute nutrients evenly among themselves. Scientists have spilled dye onto trees at one end of a grove and traced it through the root network all the way to the other side.

...

This collaboration lasts only until summer comes. Then every tree, sprout and branch must fend for itself. Those that can't photosynthesize enough sugar are cut off from the shared root system and discarded during what's known as the autumn "needle drop."

...

"It seems like the albino trees are just sucking these heavy metals up out of the soil," Moore said. "They're basically poisoning themselves."