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There are numerous examples of albino animals, including snakes, birds, fish, mammals---humans too. Apparently this comes from some a genetic defect that results in lack of pigment.

What about plants? Obviously a lack of chloraphyl would be fatal for a plant, so I'm imagining the seed or fruit being white. Does this exist in nature?

Edit: I'm thinking of fruit/seeds that are not normally white.

Note the wiki page I cited has only 2 paragraphs on this:

In plants, albinism is characterised by partial or complete loss of chlorophyll pigments and incomplete differentiation of chloroplast membranes. Albinism in plants interferes with photosynthesis, which can reduce survivability.[4] Some plant variations may have white flowers or other parts. However, these plants are not totally devoid of chlorophyll. Terms associated with this phenomenon are "hypochromia" and "albiflora".[5]

That last part seems what I'm interested in, but the cite is a dead link.

Later in the article:

The primary function of pigments in plants is photosynthesis, which uses the green pigment chlorophyll along with several red and yellow pigments including porphyrins, carotenoids, anthocyanins and betalains.

No cite there and not much info anyway.

So are white seeds or fruit found in nature?

If you're curious, I originally thought of this as an alternative way of getting white chocolate from an albino cocoa bean, and maybe even a white coffee bean too.

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    $\begingroup$ Coffee beans are green before they are roasted; the brown color comes from the Maillard reaction (and possibly some caramelization), same thing that makes bread brown on the crust, and chocolate as well. Coffee or chocolate without the color wouldn't taste anything like normal. And white chocolate isn't really chocolate, it's a candy made with only the "butter" from cocoa beans which is really just a vegetable oil. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Mar 8 '17 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause Right that is why I wanted a "real" white chocolate, tho ofc who knows what it would taste like. I didn't know about the green coffee beans tho. Interesting. $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Mar 8 '17 at 3:10
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    $\begingroup$ White seeds: rice? White fruit: banana (not the peel of course)? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Mar 8 '17 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ Great place for me to plug the super interesting story about albino redwoods $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Mar 8 '17 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ Do flowers count? There are some species where part of the population is white, e.g. Frittellaria meleagris $\endgroup$ – RHA Mar 9 '17 at 13:17
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When thinking of albinism in fruits, the only thing I could think of is strawberries. Yes, there can be albinism in strawberries! They are nearly always assocoated with excess nitrogen and are usually tasteless. According to a research by Lieten et al, their mineral composition also differes. Albino strawberries contain higher N:Ca and K:Ca ratio than normal fruits. Another study by Sharma et al shows that albino strawberries show less lipoxygenase activity. Also, Hwang et al and team found that presence of more than normal silicon also causes, among many other things, albinism.

albino strawberries

You can get more information here, here, here and here. Obviously, there could be numerous other examples, but albino strawberries is all I could remember.

PS the exact genetic cause and mechanism of albinism in strawberries is not known yet. When searching online, I only found a study by Plante et al which suggests presence of mixoploid cells over a critical number which might have an effect on it.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's neat! Can they be safely eaten? Do they taste bad? If it's only a nutrient problem that causes it, and not a gene, then there must be some technical definition that I don't know that might exclude them. $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Mar 8 '17 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ Most probably the exact cause is not known and must be genetic. Also, they are mostly tasteless, but not harmful. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Mar 8 '17 at 5:51
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, so it could be a genetic defect that causes them to take up too much wrong nutrients. BTW you should get +1 just for that new link to acadamia. I've never seen a in-html paged document that loads so fast plus word searchable with CTRL+F like normal. Everyone else does pdf. $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Mar 8 '17 at 5:57
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Albinism is very rare in plants, because most plants can't survive long without photosynthesis. A notable exception is Sequoia sempervirens, an American tree that seems to be able to survive as albino through parasitism. Source

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In some plant species with coloured flowers, some specimens are white. A good example is Fritillaria meleagris, for a photo of the white flowers see the Dutch wikipedia page.

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Another example of white flowers is Corydalis cava.

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However, this is not true albinism, because green parts of the plant are not affected.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, +1! I've added photos and corrected links, feel free to roll back :) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Mar 18 '17 at 15:08

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