Trees may turn golden for reasons that have nothing to do with the onset of autumn: Eucalyptus trees can hold grains of gold, potentially helping reveal buried treasure, scientists now find.
Many plants root deep into the Earth, drawing up nutrients and minerals they need for life. Researchers hope this fact could one day help miners unearth gold, especially since discoveries of new deposits of the precious metal have dropped 45 percent over the last 10 years.
Scientists in Australia focused on eucalyptus trees, since traces of gold are sometimes found in soils surrounding these plants. However, researchers were not certain until now whether trees could actually absorb the precious metal from underground deposits or if the wind simply blew gold dust there from other sites.
Now one group has discovered the first evidence in nature of gold particles located within living tissue from trees.
Researchers investigated leaves, twigs and bark of eucalyptus trees up to 35 feet (10 meters) tall from two locations in Australia - one in the west, another in the south. Past exploratory drilling revealed these sites had gold buried underground, but the areas were undisturbed by further mining activity that might have contaminated the trees with gold dust.