Rare tree may find itself on the chopping block for train

BY Justin Scuiletti  March 12, 2014 at 6:20 PM EST

A 52-feet tall albino chimero coast redwood — a tree so rare it is believed to be one of less than 10 in the world — may end up under the axe in order to make way for a commuter train in California.

According to the Associated Press, the tree might have to come down due to safety reasons. Federal regulators determined that the rare specimen was too close to a proposed set of future Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART, railroad tracks.

Chimeras — a plant that contains two sets of DNA that have fused together — are considered a genetic oddity. Its dual genetics, however, allow the albino redwood to survive in the wild by allowing it to conduct photosynthesis, something that it would not be able to do naturally.

If the tree comes down, SMART will be required to plant 20 coast redwoods to make up for the loss of the one tree. However, there may be a way for both sides to have their cake and eat it too: discussions have begun to see if it is possible to move the rare tree to city-owned land.