While hiking in the redwoods, you may sometimes see a small white, or albino, redwood tree. These rare trees are unable to generate chlorophyl, and so they tap into the root systems of surrounding trees in order to survive.
Researchers now theorize that albino redwoods may actually play a useful role in the forest ecosystem. Zane Moore, a doctoral student at UC Davis, has found that the white trees contain unusually high concentrations of toxic metals such as nickel, copper and cadmium. He believes that the trees may be acting as filters to remove toxins from the soil, just as the liver and kidneys filter toxins from the human body.
Moore presented his research at the Coast Redwood Science Symposium in Eureka, CA.