A Rare White Plant Like You’ve Never Seen Before!

Ever heard of albo plants? These are plants with white leaf parts that are generally worth more than their green counterparts. Collectors are wild about them, and some are prepared to pay real fortunes to own these original plants.

Photo: Huy Phan

Well, I have such a rare albo plant that I’ve never seen anything like it. So I’m writing this article to tell you about the origin of this sought-after shade of white, but also to tell you about my unique and spectacular beauty… Which I’ve decided to sell. You know, when you make a living from your writing, as I do, you’re not rich, and sometimes you have to sell your most prized possessions, with a heavy heart.

But First, What Is “Albo”?

Albo comes from the Latin albus, which simply means “white”. So an albo plant is white. But not entirely: if it were only white, it wouldn’t be viable.

This extraordinary coloring is in fact a genetic disease: albinism. Just as albino humans cannot produce melanin to color their skin/eyes/hair, albino plants cannot produce chlorophyll. However, chlorophyll is not only responsible for the plant’s green color, but also for its ability to photosynthesize, and thus transform light into energy. A plant (or even a leaf!) that is 100% albo is therefore in no way viable, with the exception of the uniflora monotrope, which obtains its energy by parasitizing other species.

As a result, houseplants plants with missing coloration are only partially albino. Their mottled look is original and attractive, but their needs are even greater! After all, it’s a disadvantage for a plant to be able to absorb light with only 80, 70 or 60% of its foliage. Nevertheless, with good care, these plants are propagated with their “genetic disease” and become collectors’ stars.

Here’s the difference under the microscope. The two leaves are from the same plant, but there is one albo, and one with chlorophyll. The little squares on the white leaf are the cells. The little white dots on the green leaf are the stomata (holes that allow gas exchange between the plant and the air).

My Very Own Albo

Albinism in plants can occur quite spontaneously. It’s a genetic mutation that simply occurs. It can affect a single leaf, in which case it will be unique, or a part of the plant. In the latter case, you can see where the mutation has occurred, since the stem will show discolored areas, as will all the leaves growing from that point. When a plant is entirely albo, it’s usually because a mutated branch has been cut and cuttings taken.

In the case of my plant, it’s a miracle of nature. That’s why by selling it, I think I’ll be able to make a lot of money, maybe even pay off part of my mortgage.

The mutation appeared throughout the plant, and completely spontaneously. The seed itself must have contained the mutant gene! It’s not a cutting, since my plant is a monocotyledon that doesn’t really take cuttings. There are roots and leaves, but no stems or branches to cut. Isn’t that extraordinary? You’ll never find its equal on the market.

What makes it even more exceptional is that it grew outdoors. It appeared in my home without my having grown or even planted it. So you can understand why putting it up for sale was such a heartbreaking decision…

Anyway, here she is, my precious, enigmatic and utterly unique… clump of albino grass.

For Sale to the Highest Bidder

If you’re interested, I’ll put it up for auction. Seriously, have you ever seen such a magnificent rare plant? I think I’ll start this at $100,000. I can supply the shovel to whoever picks it up for a few extra bucks!

I fooled you with my rare plant, didn’t I? I think I’m pretty funny this morning! Still, even if it’s clearly not worth the price of a monstera albo (which is a few hundred dollars), it’s still a magnificent discovery in my lawn! Nature never ceases to amaze. Have a wonderful day!

Audrey Martel is a biologist who graduated from the University of Montreal. After more than ten years in the field of scientific animation, notably for Parks Canada and the Granby Zoo, she joined Nature Conservancy of Canada to take up new challenges in scientific writing. She then moved into marketing and joined Leo Studio. Full of life and always up for a giggle, or the discovery of a new edible plant, she never abandoned her love for nature and writes articles for both Nature sauvage and the Laidback Gardener.

4 comments on “A Rare White Plant Like You’ve Never Seen Before!

  1. Variegated Monstera deliciosa and Tupidanthus calyptratus are supposedly very rare and very expensive. I grow both for my colleague down south, although all of the Monstera deliciosa are there now. (I only get cuttings when I go back at the end of winter.) I foresee them going the way of yellow Clivia miniata. They start out very desirable, but then become quite common. I would very much like to grow albino redwood by grafting it onto green redwoods. It can not survive alone, since it lacks chlorophyll. I large specimen lives here, but relies on the tree that it is attached to.

  2. Corry Oosterhouse

    Sooo, how much do you think an albino geranium would be worth, Audrey? My friend works at a greenhouse and came across quite a few and gave me one. Her boss didn’t think he could sell them so he gave them to her. I wish I knew how to post a picture of it but it looks about like the big plant at the top of your page! Only smaller of course!?

  3. I reiterate Suzanne’s comment! Always worth a read.

  4. Suzanne

    Your articles never cease to interest and amaze me! Thank you so much for the time and energy you take to inform us of the wonders of gardening and nature.

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