Turning Archive 2005

Burl growth

John K Jordan
>John Lucas wrote (in Southern States Symposium thread):
>He said there were 2 types of burls. Those
>formed by limb buds and those formed by
>injury to the tree

Thanks. I have been trying to research burl growth, both for general interest and from the perpective of trying to induce it. So far I haven't found any true scientific research on this subject.

I've read as much as I can find and while I've seen a lot of opinions I'm not convinced that anyone knows for sure, perhaps guessing or repeating what they've heard. For example, the limb bud idea (described by Hoadley and others) certainly sounds credible based on the burls I've disected, but how does this mass of limb budding get started at the burl location - by some genetic accident or physical accident? Is it really equivelent to uncontrolled cancer growth in animal cells?

I see many types of burls in different stages of growth on my wooded property on black cherry, sassafras, oak, maple, and even yellow poplar. Some are growing out of one side of the tree - some are centered on the trunk such as one 2' burl 20' up a 6" cherry tree. Some trees have several burls. Some trees have incredibly "gnarly" bark and I can imagine the figure below.

It would be interesting to learn a way to treat bark on young saplings to encourage burl growth. I may try some experiments (very long term experiments!) Some ideas: physical distress by lancing or boring through the bark, chemical treatment, "grafting" a burl by introducing live genetic material, i.e., small bits from the cambium layer of existing burls.

Imagine a specialized tree farm with every tree figured or covered with burls for veneer and future woodturners.

Does anyone have any references for research on burl formation and growth?

JKJ in East TN

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