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redwood burl seeds

Redwood burl seeds

Usually the burl begins to sprout after a few weeks. Peter Del Tredici, director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, had redwood burls sprout within a week or two after placing them in water. The new growth is rather ferny-looking because of the redwood’s fine needles, and a number of shoots usually emerge. You can allow all of them to develop or you can perform selective pruning to thin out the growth. The redwood shoots get taller as time goes on. The shoots can last for several years. Usually they eventually die because of over- and under-watering or from fungus disease.

A living but dormant redwood burl doesn’t look very viable. It has a flat side where it was cut from the tree and a lumpier, curved side that contains the buds that will sprout. Choose a low-sided container that will hold the burl with an inch or two of extra room along its sides. If you’re going to display your sprouted burl, consider using an ornamental plant saucer or decorative shallow bowl. Add about 2 inches of water and put the burl into the container, flat side down. Place the container and burl in bright light and add water as needed to maintain the level.

At the base of a redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) are lumpy, gnarled growths called burls. Inside them are buds that sprout if the redwood dies. The shoots form new trees, preserving the genetic code of their parents. Important to forest regeneration, burls are at risk because the highly patterned wood they contain is valuable. As redwood forests disappear because of logging, poachers illegally harvest large burls from public lands, damaging redwood trees. Sometimes you find redwood souvenirs of small, legally harvested burls. These sprout in water. They might not root, but the shoots can live for several years.

Sometimes burls will form roots, and then they should be treated as you would a redwood seedling, planting it in potting mix. To increase the chance of a burl forming roots, follow Del Tredici’s example. He put sprouted redwood burls inside a greenhouse with plenty of water and light, and the burls grew roots after six months to a year.

Sprouting the Burl

Getting Started

Redwood burl seeds

Prices include shipping.

As BURLS grow in the shade of the REDWOOD FOREST, they need not be placed in direct sunlight (although some sun can be tolerated). Your BURL may develop rootlets and can then be placed in soil outdoors in mild climates, or potted and placed indoors in extreme weather climates.

Here at CALIFORNIA NATIVE WOOD, we create hundreds of one-of-a-kind burl bowls every year. Really. we make them up as we go along. Each is made of REDWOOD. We rout out various sizes and shapes to accommodate the many shapes a LIVE BURL will take on. We then burn the edges and bowl portion, turning them jet black. We sand and finish the bowls, then apply several resin coats, making the bowl both waterproof and beautiful to the eye.



An occasional scrubbing on the bottom of the burl helps keep it free from algae and prolongs the life of the LIVE BURL.


Above 8 inches prices vary.

Redwood burl seeds

“In short, there is no reason that FSC certified burl could not be sold into the market, as long as the forest is managed to FSC standards.”

In theory, burl wood harvesting could be a sustainable resource, if done properly, Burns said. Burl wood bowls, furniture and other items can be found in shops in the Bay Area, but its source is rarely labeled, leaving open the question of whether the wood is legally harvested off private lands or whether it’s been poached from parks.

“If we lose those burls, we lose those genetic anomalies,” said Burns.

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One fun fact about redwood burls: some of the trees sprout albino. They never turn green, and presumably cannot survive without the parent tree, because they do not produce chlorophyll.

“Redwoods are very hearty and very good at regrowing bark over their wounds,” she said. “There’s a lot of reason to think that these trees will be okay, but it’s weakening the tree. It takes a long time, but redwoods really do heal over wounds.”

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Along the northern California coast, burl poachers have become so pervasive that park officials have started closing the popular Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Redwood National and State Parks at dusk. The poachers are apparently after the largest burls that grow in the remaining old growth redwood stands. Hacking off a burl not only destroys the redwood’s effectiveness at reproduction, but also opens the tree up to disease and other infections, and makes it susceptible to falling over, otherwise known as windthrow.

“If a forest is being harvested illegally (poaching implies this), then it cannot be FSC certified,” said Kahn in an email. “Legality is one of the first things the auditor checks. But assuming it is legal and part of an auditor approved management plan, a forest landowner could theoretically include burl as a product they produce from their certified forest.”