Look at that Swirl on a Burl!

What is a Burl exactly?

Large burl

Large burl located just outside London, ON

Let’s start with an example, shall we. Do you see that bulbous lump in the middle of the tree in the picture to the left there? Hard not to notice, isn’t it? That my friend is a burl.

A burl is an abnormal growth on a tree caused by some form of stress. The stress might be due to injury, a fungus, insect infestation, or perhaps even from a virus. While most often they are found underground on the roots of trees and only discovered once the tree topples or dies, the ones that are noticed more often are the burls that grow on the trunks of trees. They grow under the cambium level and can look like a massive malignant growth from the outside, especially when they grow to larger sizes. Inside they are a contorted mass of twists and swirls. In actual fact though, burls do not harm the trees they are attached to.

Why Are Burls Interesting?

Ash Burl Sculpture by Mark Lindquist, copyright © Lindquist Studios, all rights reserved

Burls are prized for their interesting and often beautiful markings. As you can never predict where or when a burl will form, they are highly sought after by artisans and furniture makers to turn into intricate bowls, table tops, and unique sculptures. Be forewarned though, their scarcity makes pieces made from burl wood rather pricey!

Can You Find Burls in Canada?

World’s Largest Burl in Port McNeill, BC

Excellent question and the answer is yes! Burls are found in pretty much any kind of tree all over the world. In fact, the burl in this picture is located in Port McNeill, BC and claims to be the largest burl in the world. Weighing in at approximately 30 tons, measuring 6 metres tall and a whooping 6 metres in diameter, makes this giant world-renowned. Not bad for a Canadian burl, eh!

Have you seen any cool burls in your wanders?

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