Squire reporters discover town’s largest burl

Talk about your bulbous protrusions!

by CLIFF AND NANCY

Photo by CLIFF HILL

On an undisclosed piece of private property within the City of Rockford stands a tree, which is encapsulated by the largest “burl”, we have ever seen.

What’s a burl you ask? Wikipedia tells us that a burl is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded out growth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds. Almost all burl wood is covered by bark.

A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. Most burls grow beneath the ground but the one in the picture completely encircles the tree some five feet above the ground.

Burls yield a very peculiar and highly figured wood prized for its beauty by many. Its rarity also adds to its expense. It is sought after by furniture makers, artists, and wood sculptors. Some burls are highly valued and sliced into veneers for furniture, inlay in doors, picture frames, household objects, automobile interior paneling and trim, and woodturning.

Burl wood is very hard to work, with hand tools or on a lathe, because its grain is twisted and interlocked, causing it to chip and chatter unpredictably. This “wild grain” makes burl wood extremely dense and resistant to splitting, which makes it valued for bowls, mallets, and mauls for hammering chisels and driving wooden pegs.

The Rockford tree that holds the burl is dead and denuded of bark making it nigh unto impossible to identify the species of tree. It is a huge burl and is approximately 6 feet high and 6 feet in diameter dwarfing the charming and delightful Squire reporter, Nancy Hill, a perfect foil for gauging its size.

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