Originally published on October 29, 2013
Money really does grow on trees. That's the conclusion reached by Australian geochemists, who published a paper in the journal Nature Communications showing how eucalyptus trees growing above gold deposits act as hydraulic pumps, drawing up water containing gold and absorbing it all the way into their leaves.
Eucalyptus trees, some of which grow taller than 10 metres (33 ft.), in dry areas send their roots deep into the ground in search of water, even breaking into gold-rich zones at a depth of 40 metres, where they absorb microscopic metal particles as they drink.
Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national scientific agency, found that gold can be absorbed by the trees' roots and travel through the tree, all the way to its leaves, though in negligible concentrations — several hundredths to several thousandths of a gram per tonne.
The team used X-ray imaging technology to study eucalyptus trees that grow in south and west Australia. Tiny amount of gold were found in the trees' leaves, twigs and bark, as well as in soil under the trees.
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