Parents of the world be advised: money does in fact grow on trees.
A scientific survey done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Western Australia showed trace amounts of gold in the leaves of eucalyptus trees. The explanation is quite simple. The Kalgoorlie region in resource-rich Western Australia was the site of a gold rush in the late 1800’s. The nearby eucalyptus trees, acting like a hydraulic pump, pulled particulate gold up through their roots. Since gold particles are harmful to tree growth, the eucalyptus pushed the gold particles out to their leaves.
The CSRIO’s findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, warned against collecting eucalyptus leaves for profit. The amount of gold in each leaf is miniscule; data indicates it would take the leaves of over 500 trees to produce a single gold ring.
Gold particulate in vegetation is, however, an important indicator to presence of nearby gold deposits. Trees can imbibe gold from as deep as 100 feet below ground. With gold prices skyrocketing and the discoveries of new gold veins dwindling, prospectors could test nearby vegetation for the presence of particulate gold. If vegetation shows trace amounts of gold, mining around the vegetation could yield yet unfound gold deposits. The CSRIO calls this method, “biogeochemical sampling.”
The study also indicates this method of biogeochemical sampling could be used to detect other minerals such as zinc and copper. The US Geological Survey estimates 51,000 tons of gold remain in the Earth’s crust. In addition to jewelry, many modern electronics also make use of gold in their circuitry. Gold has even found use in experimental cancer treatments.
Though growing money trees is still mere fantasy, using vegetation to find gold can reduce mining costs and make gold available well into the future.