What’s the mysterious cause of this crooked forest?

Crooked pine tree

In a small stretch of forest in near Gryfino, a town in Western Poland, the pines have a secret. And though people have suggested a thicket of theories over the years, no one’s quite sure what caused the curvature of their curious trunks.

Dubbed the “Crooked Forest,” each of these 400 pines has a 90-degree northward bend in its base. Even weirder, the trees, which are estimated to have been planted in the 1930s, are surrounded by a regular forest of perfectly straight pines.

So what’s causing the curves? One theory suggests that rolling tanks distorted the young trunks during the invasion of Poland in World War II. A more plausible theory attributes the J-shaped trunks to heavy snowfall that lingered into the saplings’ spring growth spurts.

But then why would the curvature show up only in such a tight grouping of trees? Perhaps the simplest theory is the correct one: humans in need of curved construction materials may have intentionally bent the trees, perhaps for furniture or shipbuilding. This would explain the consistency of the curves, and also why they’re surrounded by straight trunks.

Mysteries aside, one thing’s for certain: these lovely photos by Kilian Schönberger perfectly capture the curious case of Poland’s curved pines.

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