Their research, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggested plants were absorbing gold particles found around the soils of eucalyptus trees, Dr Lintern explained.
“The eucalypt acts as a hydraulic pump – its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold.
“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.
“The leaves could be used in combination with other tools as a more cost effective and environmentally friendly exploration technique.”
Dr Lintern added that by using this technique of sampling and analysing vegetation for traces of minerals, it may be easier to observe what occurs below the surface without the need to drill.
He said: “It’s a more targeted way of searching for minerals that reduces costs and impact on the environment.”
Now before you grab your passport and ax, the paper found an average gold concentration of 80 parts per billion in tree’s leaves, and a mere 4 parts per billion in bark (though bark does cover a larger surface area).
Unfortunately, this means the gold isn’t visible to the naked eye. So the next time someone tells you money doesn’t grow on trees, well, you know what to say.