Monday, 11 January 2021 18:38

2021 Tales of White Trees

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 January:

Rick and Barbara from the Russian River area of Sonoma County shared with us an albino redwood growing on their property. Located in the center of a fairy ring of second-growth redwoods, this pure white mutation has been known by mushroom foragers since the 1950s. Today this modest albino redwood stands in about 10’ tall. There are several small standards on the mutation which appear to have grown and died back over the years. According to Rick and Barbara, this year the albino redwood foliage doesn't appear to be as lush as in years past. The 2020/2021 winter season was off to a slow start so many redwoods in the area were drought-stressed. This could have contributed to the albino's sparse look. Thanks again Rick & Barbara for sharing this nearly 70-year-old albino redwood with Chimera Redwoods! 

 

Barbara Gary Albino

 

Barbara Gary Albino 2


 May:

Here’s a first for all you chimera fans. Brian from Kansas City Missouri shared with us pictures of a sectorial branch that formed on one of his three-year-old Dawn Redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). This is the first occurrence that we’ve seen chimerism in this species which is short of extraordinary. In the pictures, you can see how the white albino foliage appears twisted and distorted compared to the normal green genotype. Despite these abnormalities, you can distinguish the foliage differences between Coast Redwoods and Dawn redwoods by their needle arrangements. Coast Redwood needles alternate on the branch while Dawn redwood needles have an opposing  form. What’s interesting is there are missing needle digits on the sectorial branch making it harder to distinguish between the two species.
Brian found his chimera while propagating a small forest of these trees for a bonsai project. He specializes in growing Dawn Redwoods for the purpose of creating living art. The trees are planted in hollowed-out bald cypress knees which creates a unique natural look. Thanks, Brian for sharing your amazing find, and keep us posted on the chimeric growth.

Dawn Chimera 1

A close-up of the sectorial branches.

 

Dawn Chimera 2

Another view showing the two genotypes split down the middle on several needles.

 

Dawn Chimera 3

The sectorial branch is located in the center of the highlighted circle. 

 

Dawn Chimera 4

An example of Brian's living art sculptures.


 May:

 In early January Humboldt Redwood Company’s Registered professional forester Milan discovered an albino redwood growing on the company’s timberlands. This was the first to be discovered on company property in recent times. Located high on a ridge north of the town of Carlotta, this albino redwood became one of the most isolated known in Humboldt County. With the help of the staff at sister company Mendocino Redwoods, HRC’s Lead Botanist James was put in contact with Tom Stapleton regarding the discovery. This May, Milan, James, & Tom met up to inspect the tree. After traveling several miles on logging roads and bushwhacking through gullies, the albino redwood was finally located. The mutation was measured at 11’ tall by 5’ wide and consisted of two small standards exhibiting cream-colored foliage. Bud scars indicated that the albino redwood was approximately 7-8 years old. Despite the ongoing drought of 2021, this mutation appeared healthy compared to others that were inspected several ridges over in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The parent trees to the albino consist of a small group of young redwoods scheduled to be harvested. Because of the rarity and significance of the albino discovery, it was decided by James that the parent trees would be marked as ‘no cut’.

James Milan 1

HRC Forester Milan and HRC Lead Botanist James in front of the albino redwood.

 

James Milan 2a

Lead HRC Botanist James marks the tree with black paint for no cut.

 James Milan 3a

Close up of the foliage with 'Botany' tape marking the tree's rare significance.


For researchers like Tom, tracking where albino redwoods grow helps to better understand the distribution of where these mutations are found. This one albino redwood outlier shows that out of the thousands of acres of redwood timberland inspected each year by botanists & foresters like James and Milan, only a few examples like this are found away from areas of human development. Like breadcrumbs in the forest, albino redwoods may be telling us more about human-environment interactions than first understood.


A big shout out to Mendocino Redwood Company Samuel for reporting Milan’s discovery. Another thank you to James and Milan with Humbold Redwood Company for facilitating the May visit. Since 2016, Chimera Redwoods has worked together with MRC in documenting albino redwood distribution on the company’s property. We now look forward to the same collaboration with HRC. Thank you to the staff at both companies for your support of albino redwood research.