Money Doesn't Grow on Trees but Gold Leaf Does, Scientists Find

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[caption id="attachment_37969" align="alignright" width="350"] Geochemist Mel Lintern said it appeared the eucalyptus trees sucked up the gold particles from 30 metres (100 feet) below the ground through their roots. Studies suggest, however, that the leaf particles themselves would not trigger a new gold rush as they measure just a fifth the width of a human hair and are visible only through advanced X-ray imaging.[/caption] Australian researchers have found minuscule nuggets of gold hidden inside the leaves of eucalyptus trees, in a discovery they say could help prospectors discover new deposits of the precious metal. Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) made the find in the resource-rich Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia, which was the site of a major gold rush in the late 1800s. Geochemist Mel Lintern said it appeared the trees sucked up the gold particles from 30 metres (100 feet) below the ground through their roots. "The eucalypt acts as a hydraulic pump -- its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold," he said. "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." In research published in the journal Nature Communications, the CSIRO said the leaf particles themselves would not trigger a new gold rush as they measure just a fifth the width of a human hair and are visible only through advanced X-ray imaging. Researchers involved in the study estimated it would take the gold from 500 eucalyptus trees to make a single wedding band. A koala sleeps in a eucalyptus tree at Sydney's Taranga Zoo, 27 March 2007 But they said the discovery presented a gilt-edged opportunity to improve the exploration methods used to search for gold, making them more efficient and environmentally friendly. "This link between... vegetation growth and buried gold deposits could prove instrumental in developing new technologies for mineral exploration," they said. …