Geek Trivia

The Only Type Of Conifer Tree That Can Produce Viable “Albino” Children Is The?

Douglas Fir
Norway Spruce
Mexican Cyprus
Redwood Tree
The First "Wake Up Call" Played To Astronauts Was?

Answer: Redwood Tree

Albinism, or lack of melanin pigment, is well known to put wild animals at a disadvantage. If you’re the only bright white sparrow in a flock of mottled brown, for example, it’s all the more easy for a predator to pick you out and quickly gobble you up.

Although true albinism can only happen in animals (as plants don’t have any melanin to speak of), that doesn’t mean there aren’t genetic mutations within the plant kingdom wherein a plant can sprout and grow missing the genetic marker for chlorophyll production. As you can imagine, this form of “albinism” in plants is even more catastrophic than in animals. While being bright white might put an animal at a disadvantage in the face of predation, it doesn’t generally stop them from outright living. In the case of plants without chlorophyll, however, their entire food production cycle is disrupted and their leaves/needles will produce no nutrients for the host tree.

In fact, among the conifers of the world, there is only one tree that can produce viable “albino” specimens, the towering redwood tree. Why are albino redwood trees viable when the albino mutations of other species die out almost immediately? Redwoods have the ability to graft their roots to the root systems of nearby trees. Unlike other conifers, the albino specimens of the redwood tree weave their roots into those of their parent tree and nearby trees so that they can siphon nutrients in a parasitic fashion from them. Although this allows the albino redwood to survive, it imposes limits on their growth; albino redwoods reach a maximum height of around 66 feet (compared to the maximum height of 370+ achievable by normal redwood trees).

Image courtesy of Cole Shatto.