See that white tree there amongst the green ones? I'm not certain, but I think it's an albino.

Like animals, some tress are born as albinos, devoid of pigments due to a genetic mutation. Without photosynthetic pigments, a tree cannot harvest energy from sunlight and normally wouldn't survive. But in a rainforest, any tree will be nurtured by the rest of its community, sharing resources through their roots. Even a tree unable to give anything back.

Image credit: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

ยท 9 ยท 142 ยท 152

In North America, albino redwood trees are quite well known. Unable to support themselves, they survive purely through the help of the other trees which surround them. In a forest, those with more always give to those with less, so that all can survive.

That's an example for all of us to learn from.


The Albino Code, a bond more sacred than his loyalty to Saint Cloud.

@InvaderXan I thought you were making this up as a long-winded political metaphor but they're fucking real

@nev @InvaderXan I did a search too - I thought it was a late April fool joke! Incredible.

@GwenfarsGarden @nev
Reality is far more interesting than anything I could make up.

Forest trees are interconnected by vast networks of fungi โ€“ Mycorrhizal networks. Anything connected to the network takes what it needs from others and gives back any surplus it has. That way, the forest works together for mutual benefit.


So what does this tree need it can't do on it's own?

(I also liked the analogy btw, but more interested in the actual biology :)

Oh, that was no analogy. That's literally what happens.

Being completely without chlorophyll, an albino tree can't photosynthesise and therefore can't produce sugars. Most of a plant's living structures are made from sugars โ€“ mostly cellulose and lignin.

The large trees in a forest produce more than they need. They share it through their roots in a process called rhizodeposition. Fungi in the soil pick up those sugars, take what they need, and share the rest with other trees. That way, there will always be healthy trees providing more sugars.

Meanwhile, the fungi break down decaying matter and harvest nitrogen from the soil, again passing on any excess to the trees.

Everything nurtures everything else. By helping other organisms to survive, they ensure that there will always be someone helping their own survival too.

@InvaderXan @webmind So the healthy trees are like workers, the fungi are like managers, and the albino trees are like investors and the government?

@kragen @webmind
Not sure why youโ€™re trying to assign a corporate hierarchy to a forest ecosystem...

@InvaderXan @webmind well, you were talking about trees sustaining a tree that didn't give anything back, and to me that sounds a lot like a capitalist :)

@Nocta @InvaderXan @webmind Doesn't anarcho-capitalism like investors and hate government? In my analogy they're in the same bucket

ancap bs 

ancap bs 

albino bs 

albino bs 

albino bs 

splitting hairs 

splitting hairs 

splitting molecules 

splitting molecules 

Show more

ancap bs 

ancap bs 

Sorry. Forgot to include the actual source.

The second image is by Cole Shatto/Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps. Or perhaps we all simply need interdependence in order to thrive.

@InvaderXan that for sure but some people feel as if they can't give anything back.

Not everyone should need to. Those who can help those who can't. Those who have give to those without. After all, that's why communities and societies, both human and otherwise, developed in the world.

@InvaderXan @AzureKingfisher it's so nice to hear about things like this. Usually people emphasise the value you can bring to society, and often I don't feel like I am very "useful". I'm not even sure if I'll be able to have a full time job, not being able to have a lot of time to myself to relax really stresses me out for some reason. I had an internship for a couple of months and I got really stressed just from that. I have no idea why I'm like this but it makes me feel like I'm not very useful. The idea of everyone helping each other and being kind is such a nice thought, I wish we didn't live in a society which valued marketable skills.

@Some_Person @AzureKingfisher
Perhaps another thing to be wary of is not to conflate how "useful" you are with the concept of productivity.

We're all fed this image of productivity. Jobs and spreadsheets and meetings, and things which mean very little in the grand scheme of things.

A depressed man who lives alone and paints pictures is not "useful" under modern definitions, but Van Gogh made a huge impact on human culture.

Your value lies in who you are. Not how "useful" you appear to be.

@InvaderXan @AzureKingfisher

I thought of it in terms of "If someone has a temporary or even permanent illness, injury, disability, etc. the entire community freely gives them some of the excess because their life also matters even if they are incapable of giving anything back in return".

@InvaderXan our mother showed us a paper about this resource-sharing thing! apparently, the symbiotic fungus all forest trees have in their roots is in a large part responsible for it, especially the process of sequestering carbon from dying and dead trees. forest fungus is really really cool.

Mycorrhizal fungi networks. They're fascinating. The underground wiring which connects an entire forest and shares its resources.

They don't just sequester carbon from dying and dead trees โ€“ young trees in a forest receive far more nutrients from these networks than they give. While the old trees can connect to hundreds of smaller ones nearby.

The whole thing amazes me!

@InvaderXan I am crying a bit, this is wonderful, thank you for sharing it!

The intricacies of nature and the way life is so deeply interconnected makes me emotional too ๐Ÿ’š

@InvaderXan I was reading about this, apparently itโ€™s specifically true of redwoods, which are the only trees (citation needed) who share a root network with neighboring trees. It might be the only photosynthetic organism on the planet capable of surviving as an albino.

Redwoods do share nutrients directly, bypassing mycorrhizal networks, it's true. Though redwoods don't grow in the Amazon, so this can't explain that first image I posted.

@InvaderXan saw this cute post only for it to end in some dude spouting out weird capitalist shit

Why is the world like this

I wish I knew. Thereโ€™s a lot of stuff wrong with the world, I guess.

Letโ€™s change it. ๐Ÿ’š

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Sunbeam City ๐ŸŒป

Sunbeam City is a Libertarian Socialist solarpunk instance. It is ran democratically by a cooperative of like-minded individuals.