Nature Knows: Stress

We’ve all experienced stress in one way or another. Sometimes, stress is fleeting. Other times, it leaves a perceivable scar. Remarkably, trees carry a visible reminder of their stressors as well—through knots and burls. Nature has a way of taking its scars and turning them into beauty.

Often, a small branch will die and fall off of a tree. When this happens, the tree continues to grow around the dead branch. This causes circular knots, or “imperfections” in the wood where the dead branch once was. Overgrown tree knots are known as burls. They are made up of buds that grow inward instead of outward. These growths form on the outside of a tree when the tree is stressed by disease, infestation, climate changes, or human-induced damage, such as a chainsaw. Burls are essentially the “scars” of the tree, and tell a story of the tree’s life and fight for survival.

While they are often seen as “imperfections”, knots and burls are prized by woodworkers, and often take center stage in furniture or artwork. When a knot or burl is placed through the slicer, unique patterns of curved lines, waves, and folds emerge. Beauty is truly found in life’s imperfections.