Ever WONDER what is a burl? Ever WANDER through the woods and see the strange round growths on tree trunks? These growths are known as burls or burrs, depending on where you are from. Just like you, a burl is unique and being unique is better than being perfect. They come in all sizes, and can be found anywhere around the tree.
Scientists are not exactly sure what causes burls to form. Several theories link the idea that some sort of trauma causes the wart-like growths. Tree trauma may be a result of insect or fungus infestation. Environmental trauma such as air or soil pollution may even cause a tree to have genetic predisposition to grow burls. Trees even take wisdom from our classic childhood Dr. Seuss storyteller, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
While these may be a result of trauma and even though they look like a tumor, burls generally do not hurt the overall health of the tree. Actually, burls are quite valuable. The wood inside a burl is disorderly, topsy-turvy, in pandemonium, a muddle. This mess of woodgrain is different from a normal tree where the wood grain only grows in one direction
We all love the beautifully unusual grain of burl wood and it comes at a high price. Artisans create amazing art, sculptures, clocks, bowls, and even furniture. With it’s high value, unfortunately poachers will illegally strip burls from strong, healthy, living trees. But there is a right way. Artisans that respect the forest will only use burl wood harvested from from stumps or a naturally fallen tree.
And for you and me, as always: Play. Protect. Preserve.
Follow Leave No Trace Principle 4: Leave What You Find!
Avoid damaging trees. On your overnight trip, even hammering nails into trees for hanging things, hacking at them with hatchets and saws, or tying tent lines to trunks is harmful. Carving initials into trees is bad mojo, no one cares that you were there! Don’t scar the tree!