Crooked, Drunken And Dancing Forests

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A tree, when left to its own device, will normally grow straight. But when the tree is young and its trunk is tender, it can be forced to grow into any shape. At many places on Earth you’ll find trees with such signs of distress, but the identity of the perpetuators is often a mystery. One such location is the Curonian Spit.

Dancing Forest, Kaliningrad

The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. Its southern portion lies within Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, and it’s here the Dancing Forest is found. The trees in the Dancing Forest are twisted and deformed into loops and spirals. The trees were said to have been planted in 1961 on a dune near a village to strengthen the sands. The exact cause of their deformity is not known, but there are many theories —mostly paranormal— that try to explain it.


The Dancing Forest in Curonian Spit, Kaliningrad. Photo credit: Anna Pronenko/Panoramio

The most scientific sounding is the one that puts the blame on the caterpillar of butterfly Rhyacionia buoliana. According to this theory, the caterpillars damage the pine shoots, eating developing apical and to a lesser extent, lateral buds. With the apical bud destroyed, further growth occurs due to the lateral buds only. Consequently, the trunk and the tree gets an unusual shape. The caterpillars attack mostly young pine saplings aged 5-20 years, growing on nutrient-poor soils with lack of ground water. Such conditions are available on the Curonian Spit.


Photo credit: Anna Pronenko/Panoramio


Photo credit: Nikater/Wikimedia


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Crooked Forest, Poland

In north-west Poland near Gryfino, is another strange forest of about 400 pine trees that grow with a 90 degree bend at the base of their trunks, before rising vertically again. This collection of curved trees has been named the "Crooked Forest". The uniformity with which the trunks are curved and bent, all towards the same direction —northward—  suggest a hand of humans. It is estimated that the trees were allowed to grow for seven or ten years before being held down for a purpose unknown.

The most intriguing explanation suggests that a group of farmers manipulated the trees after planting them in 1930. Apparently, the farmers hoped to make furniture from the bent shapes and intervene when the trees were only 10 years old. However, before they could be harvested, the outbreak of the Second World War interrupted the plans of whoever was growing and tending the grove, leaving their plans a mystery.


The Crooked Forest of Poland. Photo credit:


Photo credit: 7alaskan/Panoramio


Photo credit: 7alaskan/Panoramio


Photo credit: Rzuwig/Wikimedia


Photo credit: Kengi/Wikimedia

Drunken Forests

Sometimes melting of permafrost, landslides and earthquake can also cause large number of trees in a forest to tilt, or even topple over. They are called Drunken Trees or Drunken Forests. The rise in global temperatures in the last fifty-or-so years has caused the permafrost to thaw in many places. Consequently, drunken trees are now an incredibly common phenomenon in Alaska, Canada and Russia.


Fallen trees after the permafrost melted in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2004. Photo credit:


Spruce trees tilt because of the ground melting. Photo credit:


A drunken forest in Alaska. Photo credit: Lynn D. Rosentrater/Flickr


Trees and vegetation falling into the lake as permafrost melts. Photo credit:


Trees in this Alaskan forest is tilting because the ground used to be permanently frozen, but it thawed. Photo credit: Tingjun Zhang

Also see:

slope-point trail-marker-trees

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1 comment:

  1. For those interested, there is also a grove of trees near Hafford, Saskatchewan, Canada with similar strange features... For more details, check out the following link:


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