What is Burl? Burl is defined as “A rounded knotty growth on a tree, giving an attractive figure when polished and used especially for handcrafted objects and veneers.”
Burl is an exterior deformity or irregularity, often bulging, seen in almost all species of wood, producing a unique structure and wildly contorted grain. Research shows that “[burl] is a product of vastly multiplied cell division and growth at point of occurrence.” The cause for the abnormal cell division producing burl is unknown, although, it is speculated that stress or injury (i.e. frost, fire, insect, mechanical, etc.) contributes to its occurrence. Burl-bearing trees are often found in close proximity of each other, convincing many people that certain trees are genetically predisposed to abnormal growths, and/or that environmental factors are the cause. It is unknown if burl is the direct effect of any pathogenic agents.
Burl can be seen protruding, wrapped partially or completely around a tree. It can grow anywhere on a tree from its roots to a hundred feet in the air. Burl is most often seen around the trunk of a tree. The surface of the burl can often look dissimilar from the surface of the tree on which it grows. The shape of burl can be evenly round or wildly irregular.
Normal wood grain follows a discernable pattern, while the grain of burl is irregular and unique. Burl is highly sought after, given its rarity and distinct visual qualities. Due to burl’s abnormal grain, one can cut burl from any direction.
Here at Littlebranch Farm, we love the unique qualities of burl–the chaotic grain, beautifully contrasting color tones, and unique movement. We use burl wood for everything from rustic desks to beds to rustic tables to fireplace mantels. When making furniture, we preserve the natural qualities inherent to burl wood by leaving the live-edge and finishing the surfaces with a natural hand-rubbed wood finish, allowing for the true color and detail of the burl wood to come through perfectly while still protecting the wood and repelling water.
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