Tom Stapleton is certified arborist with a passion of researching and propagating very rare albino redwoods. He & fellow research colleague Zane Moore have traveled hundreds of miles to search out and document the distribution of these very unique trees. Presently both men know of over 485 various albino sites in and outside of the natural range. Some of Tom’s accomplishments include the successful campaign to save & relocate the world's tallest chimeric redwood known as the Cotati Tree in 2014. He also has been the first to successfully asexual propagate an albino redwood variant known as a chimera in 1997. Chimeric redwoods consisting of two different sets of DNA are extremely rare & only thirty are known to exist in the wild. Tom hopes by propagating these trees in a controlled environment will lead to the definitive causes of albinism in redwoods. His ongoing research in a greenhouse setting has less of an environmental impact than working with albinos in the forest. It also could lead to better interpretation and protection of redwoods in the natural range. Currently Tom is working with botanists and other scientists to better understand the distribution and causes of albinism in redwoods.
In his personal life, Tom is a devout Christian who believes that working with these rare trees is a true blessing from our Creator. Tom gives all the credit of these amazing discoveries to God who lovingly bestows His gifts on those who place their trust in Him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Zane Moore is a Plant Biology PhD student at the University of California at Davis. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Botany at Colorado State University this spring. He is interested in understanding somatic mutations in plants and plans for this to be his research area at Davis. In Colorado, he studied chlorophyll-deficient plants: specifically their morphology, physiology, and evolution with his mentor, Dr. Dave Steingraeber. Zane is a California State Parks docent and researcher at Big Basin Redwoods State Park and commonly gives talks at both Big Basin and Henry Cowell. Zane also has an interest in tall trees and consistently works to find taller trees. One of his significant discoveries includes the tallest tree on earth south of San Francisco: a 100-meter tree in Big Basin. Tom Stapleton and Zane have been collaborating on albino redwood research since January 2013, since then making significant findings in understanding albino redwood distribution and morphology.
Dave Kuty is a docent at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The former Silicon Valley engineer, became interested the biology of the redwoods forest and especially of the albino redwoods. He first observed albino redwoods in 1990. There was little known about them and relatively few were observed in the wild. It became clear that the albinos needed to be observed in greater numbers, and differences noted. He started to observe the albino redwoods in Henry Cowell SP and started to classify them. Ten albino redwoods have been found in Henry Cowell State Park.
Dave organized the first and second Albino Conference at Henry Cowell and has encouraged other researchers and observers ever since. Genetic sequencing is not yet been possible, so he continues to observe, catalogue and classify additional albino redwoods as they are found.
He finds that the discovery of albino redwoods is encouraging, because the redwood forest continues to genetically experiment. Observations will continue throughout the redwood range.