A researcher may have figured out why albino redwoods turn white in the middle of deep green California redwood forests.
The East Bay Times reports that scientists know albino redwoods are genetic mutations that attach themselves to the roots and branches of normal redwood trees and live by drawing sugars off the huge host trees.
Now, San Jose researcher Zane Moore, a doctoral student at UC Davis, has analyzed the needles of the redwood leaves in a lab and found they contain high levels of the toxic heavy metals nickel, copper and cadmium.
They appear to be drawing away and storing pollution, some of it occurring naturally in the soils and some left from railroads, highways and other man-made sources that otherwise could degrade or kill redwoods.
“They are basically poisoning themselves,” Moore told the newspaper. “They are like a liver or kidney that is filtering toxins.”