P80804KHow Italian! Red, white and green! A coastal redwood with a white albino sport (mutant growth) amongst otherwise deep green foliage. Actually, it is very Californian. Coastal redwood is endemic to California with only a a few north of the border on the extreme southern coast of Oregon.
Such sports are quite rare. Back in the late 1970s, an article in World Magazine mentioned that only five of these albino ‘trees’ where known to exist. There were actually more, even back then, but others were not documented. (They were WithOut Papers – WOP.) The specimen in the picture is at a home that is about a century old, so it was known about for a very long time, although not documented.
Albino foliage is a lethal mutation. It lacks chlorophyll, so can not sustain itself. It only survives because it originates as basal watersprouts that remain attached to the original green trees that produce and then sustain it. Attempt to graft albino grown onto other green trees has been unsuccessful.
Albino growth looks pretty in pictures, and is provides striking (although very perishable) cut foliage that is even more striking with black flowers, but does not make such a nice tree. It stays shrubby at the base of the originating tree, without developing distinct trunks or substantial branches. It does not shed old foliage as efficiently as green growth does, so always looks grungy. To make matters worse, albino foliage is more sensitive to frost, so gets killed back every few years or so, and then is slow to shed the dead foliage and stems.
Coastal redwood is one of the most fascinating trees in the World. It is the tallest, and among the biggest and oldest. It is no wonder that it is the state tree of California.


10 thoughts on “Albino

    1. Both. It typically comes from the base of the trunk, just above the ground. However, one of the best specimens that I met years ago grew about six feet away from the nearest trunk, as a root sucker (watersprout).

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    1. They are not really albino trees. There are merely albino shoots attached to normal green trees. The one that provided the picture was exceptionally large, but was still less than twenty feet tall.

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  1. Interesting post! There is a hosta called White Feather that lacks much chlorophyll. We often have customers requesting it here at the nursery…something unusual always a temptation. We don’t carry it, because of its lack of chlorophyll and our very cold winters it seldom thrives.

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    1. This albino redwood is something that I would grow in my garden just for the striking cut foliage. However, there is not way to propagate it, or to sustain it away from where it just naturally appears.

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  2. Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:

    This foliage really is striking, particularly with black bearded iris. It does not last long once cut, but neither does bearded iris. I still want to figure out how to graft this onto a normal green tree.


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