- Written by: Tom Stapleton
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!
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.
A close-up of the sectorial branches.
Another view showing the two genotypes split down the middle on several needles.
The sectorial branch is located in the center of the highlighted circle.
An example of Brian's living art sculptures.
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’.
HRC Forester Milan and HRC Lead Botanist James in front of the albino redwood.
Lead HRC Botanist James marks the tree with black paint for no cut.
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 Humboldt 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.
Santa Cruz Mountain resident Acacia share with us this brilliant albino redwood rising from the ashes following the 2020 CZU Lighting Complex Fire. Like a beacon of hope in a charred landscape, this pale albino redwood only formed after the devastating blaze. What makes this albino redwood unique is that it originated from an understory tree that was only six inches in diameter. Remarkably the regrowth foliage consists of a ratio of approximately 65% albino to 35% green. Greenhouse experiments with chimeras show that they can tolerate a ratio of up to 70% albino foliage to 30% green. So this wild specimen seems right on the threshold of what can be balanced. Thanks again Acacia for sharing this remarkable find.
Acacia sharing her proud discovery.
The albino redwood stands in contrast to the green regrowth in the burned landscape
The lime green coloration in the needles is the tell-tale sign that this is a pale albino redwood.
The albino appears 'golden' due to a yellow pigment known as xanthophyll.
- Written by: Dustin Rocksvold
- Written by: Tom Stapleton
Follow-up report to: 2017 Tales of White Trees . Dennis from Erwitte Germany sent us fresh pictures of his seven-year-old sectorial albino chimera he named ‘Soluna’. The tree is approximately 4’ tall and to date is still the only chimeric albino Sequoia sempervirens known outside the United States. From these latest pictures, we can see that the tree’s foliage has also developed into a pale green albino chimera. This combination is exceptionally rare to see and similar to the virescent foliage seen on the Cotati Tree. Although the cause of the mutation is still undetermined, the cold weather of Germany appears to be playing a role. There have been reports from the Netherlands of Coast Redwoods exhibiting mottled appearing foliage. Thanks again Dennis for keeping us up to date with your chimeric redwood.
While hiking above the Sonoma Coast near the town of Jenner, a San Francisco photographer named Eric H. came across this basal albino redwood. The mutation appears to be relatively young exhibiting vigorous shoots. Located only a mile from the coast, Eric reported that the albino redwood was found near a group of dead redwoods. It possible that the trees died due to a slow-moving landslide. A field investigation will need to be done to see if stressors may have played a role in causing this mutation. Thanks Eric for sharing this discovery with us.
A few years back Barbara J. from Central Oregon reported that she had an aerial albino redwood growing in her backyard. No pictures were available at the time but we took Barbara for her word and marked it down for a future visit. The opportunity to see this albino came at the end of February and was definitely worth the visit. Growing in a fan-like shape, this NCV albino redwood spreads throughout the lower crown of the main tree. The parent redwood was purchased as a sapling from Trees of Mystery in 1990 & planted out in Barbara's back yard the same year. Around the year 2000, the mutation started developing into the large aerial NCV albino that we see today. Barbara believes that pollution from a nearby creek may be the reason why this mutation formed within her redwood. Thanks, Barbara for the visit and for providing the historical account on the tree.
Jared M. from Oakland gave us an update on the status of an albino redwood growing in the Oakland hills. The tree was originally reported to us by a lady named Wendy in the 2016 Tales of White Trees article. As we can see, the albinism has grown and expanded in the last four years. Follow-up reports like this are important in tracking the growth patterns within these mutations. They may be able to tell us if their growth is continuous, cyclical or if they’re in decline. Tracking this data, we can compare information from the local weather history to see if there’s a correlation between growth and climate variations with albino redwoods. Thanks, Jared for your photos and the update on the tree.
Sophia C. from the San Francisco Peninsula shares with us pictures of a small yet beautiful chimeric albino redwood she discovered on her neighbor’s tree. This little gem of a mutation appears to have only formed within the last few years. Due to its tiny size, albino redwoods this small can either continue to grow or disappear altogether. Because of Sophia’s sharp eyes, we’ll be able to track this little diamond in the rough years to come.
Tree enthusiasts Jeff. M revealed to us a truly one-of-a-kind discovery. Located in the Southern Sierra, Jeff found this aerial albino on a Sierra Redwood, otherwise known more commonly as a Giant Sequoia. As of this writing, there are less than five known cases of albinism on Sequoias within their natural range. This extraordinary find is important in understanding if mutations on this tree species behave similarly to what’s seen on Coast Redwoods. Jeff has explained that this mutation formed on a tree that is currently experiencing changes to its soil environment. Cattle and the waste they’ve produced have been accumulating around the tree. This in turn can change the micronutrients available for the trees which they have depended on for thousands of years. Whether the soil is the cause of this mutation remains to be seen, but what’s becoming clear is albinism is occurring on redwoods that have been affected by foreign introductions to their natural environment. Thanks again Jeff for this spectacular find!
- Written by: Tom Stapleton
Four years after chimeric albino redwood cones were discovered, Landscaper Lucas Dexter Vice President of Dexter Estate Landscapes came across another amazing redwood exhibiting the same variegated characteristics. Located in the heart of the wine-growing region of Napa Valley, a planted Coast Redwood displays an aerial albino more stunning in appearance than the first discovery. With fanning branches in swirls of yellow and green, this mutation revealed something that few have ever seen. Tucked away behind these yellow branches were variegated albino and green chimeric cones.
In the pictures, we see the three C's: 'clear characteristics of chimerism' by the well-defined albino/green border running through both sides of the right cone. What's intriguing is how the boundaries between the genotypes do not follow the diamond shape pattern seen when the cones start to split open later in the fall. Seeds originating from these border sections may produce chimeric seedings. A joint effort is underway to collect the cones and attempt to propagate the seeds.
Another view of this beautiful aerial albino chimeric redwood.
Aside from this redwood discovery, Lucas has a passion for collecting rare Japanese Maples and has transformed his property into a small personal nursery. Each year Lucas adds to his collection & creates new plant introductions that he grafts himself. Most recently, he has been working with the International Oak Society to introduce a new selection of a Blue Oak that he found. Again, much thanks to Lucas for sharing this amazing find.
Jane from West Sonoma County shares with us this vigorous growing basal albino redwood in her neighborhood. Originally discovered in 2014 as a thin & sparsely needled tree, this year's growth appears to have taken off following the heavy winter rains of 2018/2019. Follow-up reports like Jane’s are important to the research we do at Chimera Redwoods. By monitoring these mutational changes over the years, we may be able to correlate albino redwood survival or mortality due to weather changes within the environment. Factors like: temperature extremes, droughts, floods, & fire may play a role in better understanding growth patterns within these chlorophyll deficient trees.
Thanks, Jane, for the follow-up with this unique little tree.
As the old saying goes “good things come in threes" After a relatively quiet year for albino redwood reports, September appears to have made up for lost time. Last but not least, the month’s final report was quite stunning. After following up on the lead of a white-topped redwood growing among the quiet orchards of Sutter County, I was amazed when I pulled up to find this golden-topped aerial albino redwood. The center of the crown is albino with small sectors of chimerism. What’s unusual about the tree is that it's located below power lines and receives trimming annually. This heading back of the crown contributes to the vigorous regrowth of albino foliage. According to the owner Manuel, it appears the mutation started sometime around 2004 as a small white growth.
Ground shot showing the beautiful coloration in the crown.
What’s dumbfounding about this discovery, is you have a rare albino phenomenon growing on a solitary tree in an area where few Coast Redwoods have been planted. With the combination of the scarcity of the mutation to the ratio of trees planted per square mile, leads researchers to believe that manmade influences are most likely causing inland albino redwoods to occur. It’s thought that a combination of soil fertilization & high UV light may be initiators for albino redwood formation.
Drone view showing the true brilliance of this golden mutation. In the upper center of the picture, one can see a few chimeric shoots exhibiting both white and green foliage.
Owners Manuel & Sally who have always regarded the tree as special, continue to safeguard it into the future. Thank you both for your stewardship of such an important tree.
Closing out the year, we received a pleasant Christmas surprise with the report of this spectacular basal albino redwood. Known by locals since the mid-1950s, this albino redwood stands around 8' tall and is the pure white phenotype. David K. from Sonoma County reported this find while biking in the hills west of Healdsburg. Thanks, David for your postcard shot of the tree.
- Written by: Tom Stapleton
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 yellow. Based on the number of growth cycles the mutation exhibits, it appears this albino redwood formed sometime around 2014.
Amazingly 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 latest finds to Chimera Redwoods!
Executive Director Stan Dodson with Oakland Trails Org stands in front of an albino redwood nestled deep within the Oakland Hills. 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 of albino 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 a tree. You can find more about Oakland's wildland parks here at this link: Oakland Trails
Ed from Central Mendocino County kneels beside a Non-Chimeric variegated albino redwood on his property. This particular albino redwood produces green tips that revert white over time. The sparsely growing mutation is small but makes up for its lack of size by the rarity of its color pattern.
Known by local ranchers from years past, this albino redwood remained forgotten in the woods until a gentleman named Randy came across the research done at Chimera Redwoods. He remembered an old rumor that a ghost redwood was hiding in his neighborhood. Randy reached out to the previous property owner named Bill to follow up on the tale. Bill confirmed the story was real and gladly showed Randy that the ghost tree was indeed fact, not fiction. Once the albino redwood was rediscovered, Ed was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had an albino treasure growing on his property.
Again, a big shout out to Randy, Ed, & Bill who made this rediscovery possible.
Brad from Northern Oregon thought he had stumbled across an ordinary but rare albino redwood growing south of Portland. After being put in touch with Chimera Redwoods from friends at Crowfoot Nursery, a closer inspection revealed that this tree wasn’t any ordinary redwood. Exhibiting multiple mutations throughout its canopy, this sign could only mean one thing. Brad had discovered the 6th known grand chimera in existence. Sporting a diameter greater than 5’ and an estimated height of 129’, he had not only found an extraordinary tree but may have found the tallest one to date.
The discovery marks an interesting milestone as this is the second tree of this type to be found in Oregon. Considering how extremely rare these trees are to begin with and how few redwoods there are in Oregon when compared to California, it’s astounding to have two of these grand chimeras in that state. With that in mind, researchers will have to conduct more exploration trips to the Pacific Northwest.
Currently, Brad is working with the owners to inform them of this important discovery and hopes steps can be taken to protect its future. Thanks, Brad for the pictures & for sharing your amazing find!
Also a note of appreciation for Michael & Paulie at Crowfoot Nursery for putting us in touch with Brad. For more information about the tree, see the periclinal chimera section within the website here: Periclinal Chimera