Burl or burr (English term) has a world of fans. Collectors trek through the woods to find this rare specimen to sell. Depending on the size and quality, it could be worth thousands of dollars.
An abnormal growth that forms of roots, tree trunks, and even branches, it’s becoming an elusive natural resource. A cell structure that grows out of control, it becomes a valuable material. Cutting into the interior wood reveals decades-old patterns:
- Bird’s eye: Eye-like formations that appear randomly in the wood are valuable. Ranging from a single salt-grain size to formations the size of ostrich eyes, this one is popular in the art world.
- Curls: Swirled and colorful, this curly design is nature’s artwork.
- Flame : Collectors search for the fiery patterns of this flame wood.
- Ocean coral: The outer shell of Big Leaf Maple is responsible for burl wood that mimics sea coral.
- Burl figure: Car dash boards and gun stocks, along with sculptures and furniture, are made from this patterned burl.
- Clustered burls: Reduced size, growth clusters found growing on the log’s bark are often used for tourist promotional items like salt shakers.
Prized swellings grow on ancient redwood trees, consequently, burls weighing hundreds of pounds are targeted by Poachers. Along the California, Oregon border, burl hunters complete their work at night and in secret. Thereby, frequently escaping detection.
Searching for Burl
Tune in to the National Geographic Channel to view actual videos of burl collectors. Here you see photographers capture and share the live, tough and tumble antics, of burl harvesters in their “Filthy Riches” adventures.
Good Neighbor Policy
Always be a good neighbor and ask for permission before you tread on private property. Also, it’s illegal to trespass on private posted property. A hefty fine with court costs ensures a damper on your burl adventure.
Get Permission Before Your Search Begins
The property owner may be willing to sell a particular specimen. Consequently, both you and the owner have the opportunity to make some cash.
Science and the Hybrid Tomato – Can You Grow Hybrid Burl?
The answer is, not yet. But, not because researchers aren’t trying. Burl is mysterious in its growth habits. Discovered growing alone in almost isolated conditions, or on different trees growing in clusters, it is under close scrutiny concerning its growing habits:
- Pollutants and the environment: Pearls develop from grains of sand that become lodged inside an oyster shell. Constant irritation stresses the oyster and a pearl develops. Is the wood burl a tree pearl?
- Band-aid: A damaged tree bud tries to heal by growing a protective patch, consequently, it behaves like a band-aid. This scar tissue continues to grow into chaotic grain patterns.
- Sprouts: Bud tissue that fails to sprout, becomes a burl.
Making a Home on a Burl
Forest animals choose the high and protected over-grown, burl swellings for natural habitat. Salamanders and mollusks, among other wildlife, seek these protective protrusions for home sweet home.
Whether bringing home your own private burl or viewing the untouchable assorted varieties in the Pacific Northwest, burls are wonderful.