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How to Find Burl Wood

Hit the road and go on a burl hunting adventure.
Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

The much sought-after and expensive burl wood can be found if you are observant and persistent. The hardest part might be lugging it back to your truck. Burls are created when wood grain deforms due to insects, mold or a bud dividing and redividing, creating a lump which is then covered by scar tissue and bark. Learn what clues to look for while walking through the woods and around your community.

Look for large round growths on trunks and branches. Take your binoculars for viewing in the tall trees as burls are most often found in mature trees. Search in humid areas as the chances of finding a burl may increase there.

Dig down to the roots if you see round protrusions sticking out from the ground as this may indicate the forming of a root burl.

Check the intersections of branches and the trunk of the tree as this is where burls occur most often.

Look in mature trees of almost all varieties including but not limited to maple, coast redwood, silver birch, plum, spruce, larch, apple, myrtle, sycamore, oak and walnut trees. You can find these trees in the woods, in your neighborhood or in your front yard.

Things You'll Need:

  • Binoculars
  • Shovel


Only a low percentage of trees produce burls so it may take some time to find them. Burls occur all over the world but some of the most sought-after are in southeast Asia in the Pad-auk trees. Of course if you'd rather, you can always go burl wood hunting at your local lumber supply outlet.


  • You may not remove burls from trees located in national parks. Removing a burl from a tree can kill it if it is on the main trunk or a major root. Use extreme care. Birdseye maple is often mistaken for burl wood in retail outlets.
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