The Whitewood Tree

Albinos are pretty rare, of course, but they are even rarer as trees. After all, they need to have chlorophyll to stay alive, and if it’s albino then the chlorophyll is bleached and non functioning. Thus sometimes albino plants sprout but the don’t stick around very long.

Except this one. It’s not a whitewood—it’s a redwood that is white. We live in the land of redwoods. It got this big thanks to a peculiarity of redwoods. Their roots tap into each other forming a huge undergroundfood co-op where they help each other shift nutrients around where they help each other shift nutrients around. This one has tapped into its big, big, big sister’s roots. She doesn’t complain—she probably feels a little sorry for her weirdo little brother. 

It is a bit off the main highway, 101, that runs between Arcata and the bay area. We have visited it several times but recently someone—the road service or the forest service—blocked the exit and I’m not sure how to get there otherwise. That is probably for the best because it was starting to look pretty shoddy last time I saw it. 

There is a section of road in southern Humboldt County, where we live, called Richardson Grove State Park. It is a cute little curvy 2-land road that winds through the redwoods. Some of them are literally right on the road—these typically have large patches of bark torn off at the height of a car that would run into it, or if they were lucky, just clip it on the side. It isn’t dangerous if you’re not drunk. 

However, the highway service was to widen it so that bigger trucks can get into Humboldt. The highway people say this stretch is too dangerous. Everyone who lives here that doesn’t have some kind of cheese making or oyster-catching business doesn’t want the big trucks. So far politics and legal cases have kept it untouched. 

See, they want to cut down several of the big tree (which are, by the way, original growth and so are incredibly valuable on the lumber market). But the way that the trees depend on each other via roots makes the entire grove endangered to take out the six or eight or whatever trees. We don’t want big trucks, we do want redwoods. 

Save Richardson Grove!