albino redwood California SF Gate Cotati chimera

California Residents Save Albino Tree     Photo: Amy/flickr

Famous Hermaphrodite Albino Tree Is Saved

Rare redwood will be replanted, not killed

Chalk one up for albino trees. Back in March, we reported on an albino redwood growing perilously close to a railroad right-of-way that looked like it was destined for the chipper. Now, after a prolonged battle to save this ultra-rare specimen of the Sequoioideae species, residents of Cotati, California, can rest easy. The tree will be dug up and replanted at a nearby location, thus spared the ignominious fate of being turned into mulch.

"This is a huge victory for the tree," says local arborist Tom Stapleton in the SFGate. "I'm happy to see that SMART [Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit] has decided to save this truly unique redwood."

In this case, "truly unique" is certainly an apt description. This redwood has two kinds of DNA, albino and regular, a rare genetic constitution that qualifies it as a chimera. Stapleton says that, worldwide, there are only about 10 known samples of this type of tree, which has the unique ability to produce both male and female cones.

A local resident planted the tree 60 years ago. Now 52 feet tall, it has become a cherished neighborhood treasure.

"We heard from the public that this coast redwood was important to the community in Cotati," said Judy Arnold, chairperson of the SMART board of directors. "We felt it was worth the effort to see if there was a way to relocate the tree instead of cutting it down."

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