Scientists have discovered gold in the leaves of eucalyptus trees in Australia.
According to a study published in Nature Communications, both lab-grown and wild eucalyptus trees were tested for traces of gold by a group led by Melvyn Lintern of Australia's national science agency CSIRO. Microscopic particles have been found earlier in leaf samples, and researchers have successfully grown plants that absorbed gold through their roots.
"The eucalyptus acts as a hydraulic pump -- its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold. As the gold is likely to be toxic to the plant, it's moved to the leaves and branches where it can be released or shed to the ground," CSIRO geochemist Dr Mel Lintern said.
But before you make like a tree and leave (pun intended) for Australia in the hope to bag some eucalyptus gold, you should know that the actual amount of gold in each leaf is negligible: Lintern has described the particles as so small that the leaves from 500 trees over a deposit would only be enough to make a wedding ring.
But the significance of this discovery is that golden eucalyptus trees can indicate where miners might want to look, according to The Verge. As per the researchers, a study earlier this year indicated that discovery of gold had dropped considerably over the past decade. New sites have become progressively more expensive to find, raising concerns that there won't be enough mines to replace the old ones as they run out. Now, eucalyptus leaves could serve as a naturally occurring sample collector, bringing minerals from over a hundred feet underground high into the air.