Ask an Expert

Burls protrude from a coast redwood

What is a burl?

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We’ve all seen them—those enormous growths on the trunks or bases of coast redwood trees, sometimes covered in new sprouts, sometimes appearing to drip down the side of the tree like the molten remnants of a lost limb. These strange formations are collectively known as burls.

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A photographer wearing a sun hat and khakis stoops at the bottom of a sloping hill while aiming a camera at the young redwood forest.

Is it OK to use redwood as a building material?

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Can people who care about protecting redwood forests buy these redwood products with a clear conscience? Douglas D. Piirto, Ph.D., provides his perspective as an expert on the subject. He is a California Registered Professional Forester with broad experience studying and managing redwood forests on public and private lands.

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