What Could Have Caused Poland’s Crooked Forest?

Walking into an area in a forest outside Nowe Czarnowo in Poland may feel a bit like walking directly into a fairytale.  Known as the Crooked Forest, the spot boasts 400 pine trees that all have near identical northward 90-degree bends in their trunks.  Strangely, the unique bends are limited to those trees only; the area surrounding the spot contains straight trees.

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The crooked forest is now around 80 years old, and it is estimated that whatever caused the curvature occurred when the trees were 7-10 years old.  But that cause remains unknown.

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The most popular legend is that a group of farmers planted these trees, and they intentionally damaged the base in order to create some sort of product, perhaps uniquely shaped furniture.  They farmers were never able to see the plans to fruition however, since the the invasion of Poland a short time later and the start of WWII disrupted their plans.

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There are other theories, of course.  One, which is also related to the war, is that tanks rolling over the area flattened the trees, which then grew back crooked.  However, since such a relatively small area was affected, this is unlikely.

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Another theory is that heavy snow caused the trees to be flattened for a period while they were saplings.  During a long spring melt, heavy snow remained on top of the trunks while they experienced a growth spurt in the warming weather.

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Most likely, something like the original legend is the cause – that the trees were intentionally grown that way with the plans to make them into some kind of furniture.  Since the nearby town was devastated in WWII and didn’t see a resurgence until the 1970’s, it’s quite plausible that is the case.  However, unless the trees find a way to tell us, we likely won’t ever know for sure.