Wonders of Nature

Wonders of Nature

IMG_1011Barry has spent his entire life playing in the woods and exploring this wonderful planet we call home, and yet he is still surprised by the wonders of nature.  Take this albino ash seedling for example.  As Barry was walking through the forest at Smith Crisler Nature Preserve he spotted a dash of white in the distance.  Wondering what it could be he walked closer.  Imagine his surprise when it turned out to be a pure white tree seedling. He had never seen anything like it in all of his life and so he quickly snapped a picture and posted in online with the caption “Ah the mystery that nature is…any ideas?”  In no time people were giving ideas of just what the plant was.  The Red-tail staff did some research and discovered that the seedling was actually an albino white ash.

Many people have heard of albino animals, however, most do not know that plants can also be albino. Whereas albinism in animals is caused by a lack of melanin pigment (the pigment that gives us our skin, hair, and eye color), albinism in plats is caused by a lack of the pigment chlorophyll.  Now think back to your biology class, chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants that helps the chloroplasts to capture sunlight for photosynthesis. In other words plants use chlorophyll to make food.  A plant that has no chlorophyll will be unable to make food and will therefore die, which is why we never see albino plants.

So how is this ash seedling still alive? Well, this seedling is still very young and new and is using energy that was stored in the seed casing.  This energy is limited and will eventually run out, causing the plant to starve. The only way this plant will be able to survive is if it starts producing enough leaves with chlorophyll to feed itself.  A sad ending for a true beauty.

If you have any stories or pictures about natural mysteries or wonders send them into us by emailing info@fortheland.org!