Rare mutant redwood to be chopped down to make way for railroad


If it’s anything like the one I saw in the East Bay (location undisclosed), it might well be small enough to transplant, although I’m sure something like that is unbelievably fragile.

Edit: it’s not a pure albino, and it sounds like it’s possible but extremely hard to move:

Standing 52-feet tall, the tree features a unique mixture of normal green leaves and white, albino sections. It’s believed to be the largest of its kind on the planet.


It’s difficult to see from the photo and the article didn’t seem to address it, but why can’t the tracks be shifted away from the tree? I understand they are looking to move the tree, but then its survival may be ify.


“Chopping down rare redwood trees to make way for railroads” is so 1885.


I just don’t understand the talk of taking clippings or moving the tree. Why is it that the rail is impossible to move?


Because reasons! And freedom!

Typically, they try to make the straightest railway line they can. They may just be reluctant to shift it because of that.

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Devil’s advocate argument: any sizable detour would increase both the resources required for constructing the track and the carbon footprint of every train that used it, so the overall environmental impact of each option is worth consideration.

But yeah. I still hope it doesn’t get cut down.


Move it? Pish posh. I understand we’ve got a young lady down here in Florida who is quite <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/21/us/disbelief-still-as-florida-reacts-to-burning-of-3500-year-old-tree.html?_r=0>adept at removing trees, especially the old rare ones.

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A fair question

  1. Safety
  2. Resource expenditure.
  3. Cost.

Trains are big, heavy things that want to move in straight lines. This is why the are so fuel-efficient. When they turn, they want to turn in big, broad arcs. Compare an automobile turning at a street intersection to any train track you have ever seen.

So “moving” the track to spare the tree would be a large scale engineering effort – I would guess that at least a mile track would have to be realigned, and probably more.

This particular tree may be so valuable that an expensive realignment may be the right thing to do – I don’t know. But understand even a “small” realignment of the rails is a Very Big Deal.


I agree, it would be difficult - just not as difficult as finding a tree that rare. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of track and only 10 of these trees known.


Terrible article:

a) no closeup of albino leaves?

b) how far is it from the tracks?


Gah, you had to quote the bit with the typo. It is not a chimero, whatever the hell that would be. It is a chimera, which is a plant with cells expressing different genes.

Also, some people have been clamoring that they should just clone it. Well, depending on the the type of chimera it is, this may or may not be possible with retention of the interesting genetic trait. Also, an albino chimera will grow very very slowly so it would take a long time to get to that size.


They haven’t even built the tracks yet! Why is it impossible to design the whole thing a few yards to one side? Will they miss a bridge?

You’re confusing different kinds of “difficult.”

Finding the occurrence of the integer “1241482198192234845” somewhere in your computer’s memory would be rare, and therefore difficult. But finding such an integer would be a lousy reason to re-route a train track.

The fact that train tracks exist in other places is irrelevant. This about putting a train station in the town of Cotati itself, using an existing rail line. Moving the rail line inside an existing town is hugely expensive – somewhere between several million dollars and tens of of millions of dollars, depending on the price of Cotati real estate.

Perhaps this tree is important enough that moving the rail line or canceling the station is the right decision. But the fact of the tree’s rarity is insufficient justification.

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Yes, the rail line already exists. Google Maps and Google Streetview show the railway clearly (East Cotati Ave. and Santero Way in Cotati, CA)

The proposed construction is for upgrading the tracks to the safety standards for commuter rail, and to build a small station. As I’ve posted elsewhere, moving an existing rail line within an urban area is hugely expensive.

Well, they are calling this the New Gilded Age…


I stand corrected. That’s quite different.

A pure albino might be even more difficult to move because that would also mean transplanting the host tree it was joined to. (True albino redwoods don’t produce chlorophyll and can only survive as parasites.)

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It is a shame a rare organism is on the chopping block and the reasons are about money and efficiency. Then again, re-aligning the tracks too accommodate this one rare tree would mean countless other non-rare trees will forfeit their hold on terra firma.

The need of the many, out way the few. cue Spock /img