Tom Stapleton is certified arborist with a passion of researching and propagating very rare albino redwoods. He along with other albino redwood researchers have traveled hundreds of miles to search out and document the distribution of these very unique trees. Presently Tom knows of over 500+ albino redwood sites in and outside of the natural range. Some of his accomplishments include the successful campaign to save & relocate the world's tallest chimeric redwood known as the Cotati Tree in 2014. Tom also has been the first to successfully asexual propagate the first recognized naturally occurring albino redwood variant known as a chimera in 1997. Chimeric redwoods consisting of two different sets of DNA are extremely rare & only 100+/- are known to exist in the wild. In 2016 Tom and the Holderman family co-patented three chimeric albino redwoods originating from the first cross pollination experiment with albino redwoods in 1976: ‘Mosaic Delight' (USPP26573P3), 'Grand Mosaic' (USPP29606P3) , & 'Early Snow' (USPP29217P2).
Tom hopes by propagating these trees in a controlled environment will lead to more 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 dendrologists, horticulturists, and other tree experts 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.
Perhaps the most beautiful and fascinating of all redwood mutations is the Chimera Albino Redwood. What’s unique about chimeras is they consist of organized cells that have two visually distinguishable sets of DNA (genotypes) within the same plant. Genetically speaking, chimeras are essentially two trees in one. Caused by an extremely rare mutation within the meristematic cells of redwood buds, chimeras exhibit sectors of green & white foliage together in array of very distinct patterns. Unlike their Non Chimeric Variegated Albino Redwood cousins, Chimeras display clear lines of delineation between the boarders of each genotype. What’s interesting about chimeras that sets them apart from other mutations is they come in three different phenotypic subsets or color patterns know as: sectorial, mericlinal, & periclinal.
Not only noted for their beauty, Chimeras have been responsible for giving researchers the latest discoveries in redwood morphology. Because of the organized color differences between the cells of chimeric redwoods, scientists have been able to visually understand how redwood meristematic cells layers grow and interact with each other which previously hasn’t been understood within normal green redwoods. This research has allowed for a better interpretation of how redwoods develop and why we see such genetic variation within this species.