Natural Wonders: Poland’s Crooked Forest

Natural History
Crooked Forest. Photo: Pixabay

What force twisted dozens of these pine trees into identical J-shapes? Aliens? Gravitation hijinks? Or something much, much simpler?

Near the small town of Gryfino in West Pomerania, Poland sits a peculiar forest in which each tree is bent identically at its base. To this day, no one has satisfactorily explained why the Crooked Forest is just that.

Despite internet rumors of 400 trees, there are actually only 80 pines spread over two hectares, according to Gryfino Forest District managers. They were likely planted between 1930 and 1945. Each pine bends 90 degrees at its base, with the bend 10 to 50cm from the forest floor. The trees ranged from 7 to 10 years old when they were planted, and most of the bends point north.

Many people are quite invested in discovering the forest’s origins and this has led to a flurry of wild theories and a sprinkling of false facts. Here’s what the internet commonly says about the Crooked Forest (Krzywy Las):

Sometime in the 1930s, pines of varying lengths were planted, then flattened by German tanks when they were young. The nearest city of Szczecin was under Nazi control at the time, so it is understandable that people would think this. But the curvature of the trunks is too smooth for such destruction, and the tanks would have destroyed the entire forest, not just this section of trees.

The bent trees have inspired many conspiracy theories. Photo: Pixabay

Curious minds have postulated even stranger theories for the peculiar J-shape of this grove. These include heavy snowstorms, strong winds, gravitational pulls, genetic mutation, aliens, and more.

Heavy snow manipulating tree saplings is possible, but as with the Nazi tanks, that does not explain the straight pine trees nearby. There’s no evidence that gravity has an effect. How can a phenomenon such as this have no reasonable explanation? 

But what if the secret of these otherworldly trees follows the Occam’s Razor principle, that the simpler the explanation, the better? While a mundane explanation is disappointing, it is the most plausible at this time. World War II and the invasion of Poland did play a role, although tanks had nothing to do with it.

The Crooked Forest is most likely man-made. Photo: Pixabay

Tree shaping is a common agricultural practice in Europe, India, and America. Trees are bent in order to make furniture, instruments, carts for transport, boats, and more. Young trees are comparatively easy to manipulate and shape. It is highly possible that this breathtaking forest was a result of a simple business venture that was left unfinished because of war and invasion. The chaos and the great loss of life during World War II caused many stories to disappear forever, likely including the identity of the would-be entrepreneurs behind the Crooked Forest.

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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