The San Francisco Botanical Garden is one of the city’s most popular attractions, providing refuge for tourists and long-time residents alike. Perhaps the longest-term resident is this unbelievably rare and beautiful albino redwood tree, which is absolutely blowing our minds!
This coastal redwood tree, or Sequoia sempervirens, has a rare mutation that creates albino shoots and leaves containing no chlorophyll. This means they have a ghostly white, skeletal appearance at the tree’s base, and cannot photosynthesize.
Since the rest of the tree and upper canopy sprouts normal green foliage, the tree is still perfectly capable of sustaining itself. However these albino offshoots must feed off of the rest of the tree to survive- unable to feed themselves, they rely on the shared root system for sugar.
In plants, the technical term would be “achlorophyllis,” or “lacking chlorophyll,” but most people will be familiar with the term “albino” as it applies to humans and animals lacking pigment.
California’s famous redwood population occupies well over 100,000 acres. Only about 60-100 albino coastal redwoods are known to exist, which is a microscopic fraction of a percentage of the total population.
The locations of these special trees are largely kept secret in order to protect them, but we are lucky to have one right here in San Francisco. Thanks to the SF Botanical Garden this rare tree is available for public viewing. You can find this “ghost tree” at number 48F towards the back of the Redwood Grove.
The San Francisco Botanical Garden is a beautiful, relaxing green space with 7,700 types of plants across 55 acres. It’s free to visit for all SF City and County residents with proof of residency. The general public can get in for free before 9am daily and on the second Tuesday of every month.
Find the SF Botanical Garden at 1199 9th Ave in Golden Gate Park.
Featured image: Courtesy of SF Botanical Garden