Tom Stapleton

Tom Stapleton

Thursday, 22 February 2018 12:53

Chimera Redwoods Branches In a New Direction


 Floral Display_1


Another avenue that Chimera Redwoods is exploring is offering albino branches to the floral market. In 2016 albino branches from propagated subjects were trimmed and made into this beautiful arrangement. As you can see the result was surprisingly better than expected. Currently research subjects are undergoing ‘longevity’ testing to see how long these albino redwood branches can survive without being attached to the parent tree. We hope one day that these beautiful branches will accent many floral decorations in the future. As a green friendly note, no albino branches are procured from wild individuals. All branches are grown from subjects in our greenhouse facility. 

For more information on Tom Stapleton's progress, please see this article below published in a recent newsletter:

2018 Plant Breeders Newsletter

Sunday, 14 January 2018 10:44

2018 Tales of White Trees




Catharina from the Russian River Area of Sonoma County shared with us this beautiful aerial chimeric redwood growing on a low branch. The mutation drapes down in a mosaic array of green and white. Based on the number of growth cycles the mutation exhibits, it appears this mutation formed sometime around 2014.


This not the only albino redwood Catharina has found. To date she has discovered three more aerial albino redwood sites throughout Western Sonoma County. Thanks again Catharina for reporting your lastest finds to Chimera Redwoods!

Catharina 3 











Stan Low Res 1

Executive Director Stan Dodson with Oakland Trails Org stands in front of an albino redwood nestled deep within the Oakland Hill. This small white giant stands about 30’ tall & was discovered by Stan in 2016. The tree is pure white and is the more common type ofalbino redwoods seen. As a steward to wildland trails, Mr. Dodson will add this tree to his list of unique features that can be found in the parks surrounding the Oakland Hills. Thanks again Stan for reporting this beauty of tree. 

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You can find more about Oakland wildland parks here at this link: Oakland Trails

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In the fall of 2016 research colleague Zane Moore discovered that albino redwoods in the wild held twice as many toxic heavy metals compared to correlative green needles. This discovery: The mystery of the ‘ghost trees’ may be solved led to intriguing questions like: Do albino redwoods serve a purpose for the species by storing heavy metals in their needles? Are they removing contaminants from the soil and converting these toxins into non soluble forms in order to clean up the forest?

In the plant world there are many species that are known as ‘phytoremediators’ which have a the natural ability to clean heavy metal pollutants from contaminated environments. There has been ground breaking studies locally & in other parts of the world where trees have been used specifically to cleanse heavy metal toxins from the soil. For example: poplar trees in Silicon Valley California have been grown to clean up toxins at superfund sites. Willow trees in Finland and Russia have been used to successfully clean up heavy metal toxins from mining areas and landfills.

With phytoremediation being a real possibility of why we see albinism in coast redwoods, researchers Tom Stapleton and Zane Moore formulated a plan in late 2016 to help answer these questions. Combining Tom’s propagation experience with rare albino redwood chimeras along with Zane’s botany expertise on phytoremediation, both men wanted to know:

• Are albino redwoods true phytoremediators?
• Do albino redwoods consistently have higher tolerance for heavy metals compared to green redwoods?
• Are redwoods producing more albinism when exposed to heavy metals?
• At what toxicity level do albino & green redwoods start experiencing stress?
• What specific heavy metal may be inducing albino mutations in redwoods?

metals 1a

Based on Zane’s 2016 toxicity study on albino redwoods, the heavy metal nickel appeared to be the element most prevalent at the various soil testing sites. With these findings, nickel was decided to be the toxic metal of choice for an ongoing 2-3 year study. Because chimeric albino redwoods both exhibit albino and green foliage within the same plant, they best represented albino redwoods found naturally in the forest. 

Beginning in January 2017 in a controlled greenhouse environment, three groups consisting of young albino redwood chimeras were given various treatment regiments. The first is the control group while the other two are administered specific nickel doses. Depending on the time of year, temperature, & evaporation loss, treatment amounts are given equally among the groups.


Metals 3a

With a little over a year into the study, some subjects have already turned pale and died. Their foliage and soil will be tested at the conclusion of the experiment in order to determine toxicity levels. The remaining subjects that have exhibited various rates of green & white growth will also have their data published at the conclusion of the experiment.

For more information on phytoremediation and the benefits of using plants to clean toxins see links below:

Wiki Phytoremediation

Phytoremediation Processes

Poplar Trees Clean Up Toxins

Willow trees are cost-efficient cleaners of contaminated soil


Calendar2With over 30 years’ experience in Sonoma County creating breathtaking shots, renowned photographer & visual artist Robert Janover has generously featured a chimeric albino redwood on the August cover of his 2017 calendar. This tree was the first natural chimeric albino redwood discovered back in 1997 and is still quite a showy specimen. This infamous tree marked a turning point in albino redwood studies that further led to a greater understanding of redwood mutations.

To see more of Mr. Janover’s amazing work and to order your own personal calendar, please visit: 

Robert Janover True Images 


Friday, 28 July 2017 12:32

The Reno Coast Redwood


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Of the three known redwoods: Giant Sequoia, Dawn Redwood, & Coast Redwood, the latter holds the distinction of being the tallest tree species in the world. It’s also one of the largest not far behind its cousin the Giant Sequoia. Despite the Coast Redwood's amazing size & height, these massive trees have a chink in their armor. They are the least drought & cold hearty of the three redwood types. People all over the world who've visited California's Redwood Empire have  brought redwood seedlings home with high hopes they too can grow one of these majestic giants. Unfortunately most people have been met with disappointment as Coast redwoods have difficulty growing in climates where temperatures fall below 15°F. In the United States, this means most areas away from the West Coast of America are not hospitable for growing these trees. Only areas of the central East Coast, rapping down into the Deep South have been found to exhibit climates suitable for growing Coast Redwoods. Experts could easily conclude that the cold and arid region of Americas's Great Basin Desert should easily rule out the possibility of growing these trees. All that seemed true until a lone redwood was found growing in Reno Nevada June of 2017. Planted mysteriously by an unknown individual around the year 2002, the tree has been growing almost unnoticed alongside a house not far from the glittering lights of downtown. Located on University of Nevada Reno property, the tree can be seen off of Evans Street.  This modest Coast Redwood which may seem unappealing to its tall brothers on the other side of the Sierra is defying the odds. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows Reno in zone 7a which typically sees winter lows between 0°F to 5°F. With temperatures this range, the tree pictured right shouldn't be able to survive, but amazingly it does. After the discovery, local arborists affiliated with the University of Reno Nevada were quite astonished to learn about the tree. One of these Arborists named Rob, maintains a tree species database for the Reno area said this was the only known Coast Redwood growing in the region. This may be the only Coast Redwood in the state of Nevada for that matter.

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 So how can a Coast Redwood survive such an inhospitable climate of the Big Basin Desert. The answer lies in the microclimates of Reno. Situated near the downtown area, the tree is receiving some much needed help. First, the tree is situated within the 'heat bubble' of the downtown area which sees slightly higher winter low temperatures than the surrounding desert. Second, the tree is growing on a slight slope above the Reno Valley where cold air tends to pool on winter nights. Third, the tree is also on the wind protected side of the house preventing cold dry winds from drying out the foliage. Fourth, the tree receives some indirect light which helps moderates winter temperatures and aids the trees adaptation to the cold. Fifth and not least, the tree does receive supplemental irrigation giving it the edge it needs to survive.

As you can see, the leader of the tree has been burned back due to the extreame low temperatures the tree has experenced over the years. For more information on cold tolerant Coast Redwoods, see the 'Tale of White Trees 2017' article within this website.

 2018 Update: We received sad news that this tree is scheduled to be removed in spring to make way for a new UNR development. The construction project is slated to remove both tree and house. Efforts to have this tree relocated in a similar manner like the Cotati Tree were rejected by University staff as being too cost prohibitive. We hope that the University would reconsider the removal of Nevada's lone cold tolerant Coast Redwood.


chimera7 28 17  Have you ever wanted to learn more about chimera albino redwoods? Would you like to see these fascinating trees up close? Now's your chance to meet the researchers who are bringing these mysterious trees out of the shadows. Come finish out summer by learning the science behind albino chimera redwoods and see how they are telling us about the overall health of the redwood forest. Arborist Tom Stapleton & Plant Biology PhD student Zane Moore will be hosting several events over a three week period discussing their latest research. In addition to these discussions, there will be other interesting topics regarding redwoods that you'll be sure to enjoy. Outside of park admission, the cost to attend these events are free!

Hope to see you there!

August 12th @ 3 pm Golden Gate Dairy Farm House in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area:

Zane Moore will be putting on a talk about albino redwoods in the San Francisco Bay Area. For those not wanting to travel far, this is your best bet to catch a local event. Duration 60 minutes.

August 13th @ 8:30 am in Muir Woods:

Zane Moore will be leading a guided walk and tree measuring demonstration. This will be your chance to see how the experts determine which trees become the next tall champion. Duration 60 minutes.

August 25th @ 7 pm Big Basin State Park Campfire Talk:

Zane Moore, will be speaking about Big Basin’s tallest tree in the world south of San Francisco, and then discuss the extremely rare albino redwoods, considered by some to be the redwood's biggest mystery. Duration 45 minutes. Big Basin State Park Events

August 26th @ 12:30 pm Big Basin State Park Guided Walk:

Come learn how researchers measure the tallest trees in the world. Join Zane Moore, to learn about measuring these tall, tall trees. Zane will show you how scientists determine the height, size and ages of these trees. We’ll look at the history and future directions of tree measurement from cameras to lasers to drones. This 1-mile, 90-minute walk will take us to where technology and trees meet. Duration 90 minutes

September 2nd @ 3 pm Humboldt Redwoods State Park Guided Walk:  

Join Tom Stapleton on a guided walk to see some of the most unique albino redwoods in the park. On this walk you'll have the chance to learn about albino redwoods and see the fascinating aspects of their unique growing environments. The highlight of the walk will be the opportunity to see the largest aerial albino redwood known. The starting location will be at the HRSP Visitor Center. Duration 90 Minutes. Humboldt Redwoods State Park Events

September 2nd @ 8:30 pm Humboldt Redwoods State Park Campfire Talk:

Tom Stapleton will be putting on a slide show presentation on albino chimeric redwoods to park visitors and guests. The talk will consist of the history of albino redwoods, the various types found, & the latest research. This will be an opportune time to see live chimera albino redwoods on display. The campfire talk will be held next to the HRSP Visitor Center. Duration 50 minutes. Humboldt Redwoods State Park Events

September 3rd 10 am-4 pm Forestlands Expo Ft. Bragg Booth Display:

For the second year in a row, Tom Stapleton will be putting on an exciting booth presentation about albino chimeric redwoods at the Forestlands Expo in Ft. Bragg Labor Day weekend. If you are not able to attend earlier events, here’s your chance to see a pictorial display about the research Tom and his colleagues are conducting with these unique trees. For more information on the Forestlands Expo and the Paul Bunyan Day festivities, please see this link: Forestlands Expo Ft. Bragg Sep 3rd




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Here's an article plus phone interview with Zane Moore & Kaleigh Rogers from Motherboard discussing the ongoing experiments currently underway with chimeric albino redwoods. Although absent from the interview, Arborist Tom Stapleton is actively involved with these experiments by providing the chimeric albino redwoods necessary to hopefully answer the fascinating questions Zane has pointed out within the article. With their ongoing collaboration efforts moving forward, both men hope an exciting breakthrough can be made in the near future. Below is the link to the article.

Motherboard Science Solved It Article


Wednesday, 17 May 2017 02:11

2017 Tales of White Trees


Chuck & Christina of Marin County share with us an aerial albino growing from a redwood on their property. The mutation is quite small and appears to be only 3-4 years old. Interestingly there are a few chimeric branches laced within the mutation which points to more complex genetics than first thought. Another curious oddity is this albino has been exposed to ground pollution (sewage & waste oil) which again might be pointing to a possible man made cause of this mutation. Over the years we’ll be watching this one for further changes. Again thanks Chuck and Christina for reporting this albino redwood.

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German chimera 1

  Dennis from Erwitte Germany has sent us these pictures of a four year old Coast Redwood seedling that he propagated. Amazingly this year it has started developing sectorial chimerism and is the only case outside the United States that we’re aware of. According to Dennis, the seedling germinated out of a group of two hundred seeds collected from the Sequoiafarm Arboretum located in KaldenKirchen Germany. The arboretum is known for containing impressive stands of coast redwoods & holds a collection some consider home to the most cold tolerant strains in the world. At a latitude equal with Calgary Canada, winter temperatures frequently fall below freezing. It is not uncommon for temperatures to dip down to 5 F°/-15 C° pushing the cold tolerant limits with the species. Dennis is currently working on a breeding project with Coast Redwoods to find and develop the most cold tolerant strains available. Due to these weather extremes, it’s speculated that Dennis’s sectorial chimera may have been a result of cold induced mutation during cell division.

For more information on the history of redwoods in Germany, see the link here to Sequoiafarm. Note: you'll need to use the 'translate' feature on your browser to view the page in English.  Sequoiafarm Kaldenkirchen

German Chimera 2

 An article featured in the American Conifer Society Central Region newsletter. Published with permission & courtesy of Editor Jerry Belanger: Coniferite 1

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 05:40

Trees available to the public

Frequently we’re asked at Chimera Redwoods if there will be chimeric albino seedlings and cuttings available for sale. Arborist Tom Stapleton is currently working on a project that will make this a reality in the future. As of this writing he and the Holderman family have patented a chimeric albino redwood named ‘Mosaic Delight' (USPP26573) that should be available to public within the next five years. The tree was developed as a result of a greenhouse experiment and was not taken from cuttings in the wild. Funds received from the sale of these trees will help offset research expenses. Tom also believes that by making these trees available to the public will help protect those in our state and national parks from being poached by souvenir hunters. If you are interested in purchasing a chimeric redwood in the future and would like to be put on our notification list, please reach out to Tom in the ‘Contact’ section of the website.

For more reading on Mosaic Delight's traits, see the write up here: New Cultivar Mosaic Delight

Holderman cross

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