April 5, 2024 | Allison Robertson

The Crooked Forest, Poland

The Mysterious Forest

On the outskirts of a small town in Poland, is an unusual forest where the trees grow in a bizarre formation—and the world is full of fascinating theories as to why this may be.

crooked forest split image

What is it?

The Crooked Forest is a small grove of about 400 oddly shaped pine trees. It is officially a protected natural monument of Poland.

The famous Gryfino mysteriously curved pine treesseawhisper, Shutterstock

Where is it?

The Crooked Forest is located in the village of Nowe Czarnowo near the town of Gryfino, West Pomerania.

Crooked Forest, Nowe Czarnowo - 2013Kengi, Wikimedia Commons

What do the trees look like?

The trees in the Crooked Forest grow with a 90-degree sharp bend northward, but then curve back to grow straight up into the sky.

Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - Gryfino, Western Pomerania (Zachodniopomorskie), PolandRobert Szymanski, Shutterstock

How tall do the trees get?

Despite the unnatural curves bending three to nine feet sideways at their bases, these trees are generally healthy and grow up to 50 feet tall.

Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - Gryfino,Polandmeteorite, Shutterstock

When were the trees planted?

It is believed that the trees were planted back in the 1930s, and have grown in this bizarre shape since, with every single pine tree taking the same shape and size.

Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - Gryfino, PolandRzuwig, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Why are the trees crooked?

Nobody knows what happened to the trees to make them take the shape they have, but there are many interesting theories.

Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - Gryfino, Poland - 2013StasiÓ Stachów, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Theory #1

The most common theory as to why the trees grow in such an odd shape is: gravitational pull.

man in red shirt thinking somethingAndrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Gravitational Pull

Some people hypothesize that a unique gravitational pull in this particular area caused the trees to grow curved northwards.

However, there’s a quick explanation as to why this could not be true.

Beautiful morning in the Crooked Forest with sun rays and long shadows.Maciej Bledowski, Shutterstock

How Gravity Works

Gravity typically pulls things downward, and not at a curve—which debunks the idea that gravity is to blame.

So, what else could it be?

Crooked Forest, Nowe Czarnowo - 2013Kengi, Wikimedia Commons

Theory #2

Another common belief people have for the rounded shape of the trees is in regards to precipitation—specifically snow.

Crooked forest in winter in PolandKarolina Klink, Shutterstock

Heavy Snowfall

It is believed that a heavy snowfall in the area weighed down the trees when they were sprouting, causing them to grow crookedly at the base.

Person Holding an Umbrella Near Bare TreesIqbal farooz, Pexels

Other Vegetation

The snowfall theory can also be debunked because other groups of pine trees, and other vegetation in the same forest were not affected the same way.

A Man Shaking the Tree Branch of a Snow Covered TreeEva Bronzini, Pexels

Theory #3

Another theory includes Soviet tanks parked in the forest causing the trees to grow out from under them while they sat.

Old tank in the woods.270862, Flickr

Soviet Tanks

This theory also doesn’t hold up because it the curvature of the trunks is too smooth for such destruction to have occurred.

Also, the tanks would have greatly affected the rest of the forest as well—which there is no evidence of.

Abrams Main Battle Tank in the woods.Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, Picryl

Theory #4

Some suspect that the trees were grown for the rims of wooden cartwheels as the grain direction would have produced very tough wheels.

It’s a practice referred to as Tree Shaping.

Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - mysterious bent trees near Gryfino - PolandRobert Szymanski, Shutterstock

What is tree shaping?

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.

Carpenter sanding a chair with sandpaper in a small workshopIvan Radic, Flcikr

How easy is it to shape trees?

Young trees are comparatively easy to manipulate and shape. So, it is highly possible that this impressive forest was a result of a simply business venture that was left unfinished.

Carpenter cutting curved piece of wood by wood cutterAlexey Borodin, Shutterstock

Theory #5

The most common and most likely explanation is that local farmers planted and manipulated the trees when they planted them back in 1930.

This is similar to the tree shaping theory.

The Crooked Forest (Polish: Krzywy Las)Adam Lederer, Flickr

Trunk Curvature

Although that is the most likely scenario, it is estimated that the trees were seven to ten years old when they experienced the force that resulted in trunk curvature.

Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - Gryfino, PolandStasiÓ Stachów, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Additional Theories

There are several other theories about the weird shaped trunks that go as far as blaming aliens, and genetic mutations.

A science fiction concept of a man looking at aliens coming out the mist.Raggedstone, Shutterstock

Answers Remain Unknown

Ultimately, we may never know the true reason why the trees have grown in such a bizarre way. Researches have come up with dozens of theories, though most defy all possibilities.

Warped trees of the Crooked Forest, Krzywy Las, in western PolandTravelsewhere, Shutterstock

Abandoned Town

The town of Gryfino was mostly abandoned between the early stages of WWII until the 1970s, so the people who were there before the war—and likely who had the answers—are no longer around to share the secret.

Town of Gryfino - PolandKomaares - komaares, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Can people visit the Crooked Forest?

Yes, of course. It is on protected land, but open to the public—if you can find it. According to various internet sources, the trees are actually quite difficult to find.

Woman standing next to a sign in Crooked wood (Krzywy Las) - Gryfino, Poland.Hoaittt16, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

What wildlife lives in the Crooked Forest?

Aside from the awkwardly shaped trees, everything else in the forest is typical of a normal forest—including the animals, which includes: deer, rabbits, squirrels, bugs, and birds.

deer male and female in winterDelbars, Shutterstock

Is the Crooked Forest haunted?

Some people believe the forest is haunted, given its strangely shaped structure. However, there are no reports of any specific hauntings happening within the area.

pine forest, crooked trees, close-up - Gryfino, PolandSturmUfa, Shutterstock

What does the rest of the forest look like?

The bent trees are surrounded by hundreds of normal trees of varying sizes—but all of usual tree shape. In fact, there is nothing else bizarre about the rest of the forest at all.

Crooked Forest (Krzywy Las), Gryfino, West Pomerania, Polandboreas.tr, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

Although there are many theories surrounding the fascinating shape of the trees, there are no definitive answers. Even still, it makes for a wonderful use of our imagination, and a fun topic of conversation.

Woman Walking in the woods.Spencer Selover, Pexels

Sources: 1, 2


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