A veil of mystery surrounds a piece of protected pine forest not very far from the Polish town of Gryfino, in the northwest of the country and very close to the German border. From Berlin, it takes just a few hours to reach this forest, where the spectator can be dazzled by the sight of some 400 mysterious pines, surreal in their shape and all directed toward the north.
The strange trees of Crooked Forest were planted in the late 1920s or early 1930s, probably by the local population, and it is one of the weirdest natural landmarks to be seen on the planet. The specific region, the town of Gryfino and nearby villages, suffered heavily during World War Two. This aspect plays a role in some of the theories.
The woodland, rather wonderfully, remains a much-discussed topic of speculation, intrigue, and mystery.
Surrounded by normal pines, these 400 trees are bent at 90 degrees just above their base. From the point after the bend, the trunks rise smoothly upwards, reminding also of the letter “c” with the curve they take. There are several proposals, theories, and postulations that attempt to provide an answer to what was really done to these trees, yet there seems to be no solid proof to back any of it.
Different parties would agree that these trees underwent damage some seven to ten years after they were planted. One theory suggests that the pines were damaged during the war by passing tanks, literally bending the young trees to the ground. Once the trees grew back, they took on the curved shape that can be seen today.
A similar theory proposes that instead of tanks, some believe heavy snow weighed down on the trees, leaving them bent until spring, when once again they began to grow upwards towards the sky.
Some experts have contemplated on whether the pines forming the Crooked Forest are a case of some sort of genetic mutation. Some theories have been published in the New York Times by Dr. William Remphrey, a plant scientist from the University of Manitoba, now retired.
In the course of his career, Dr. Remphrey has discovered and observed a number of Canadian aspen trees where a genetic mutation caused the trunks to curve and hang downwards during development, giving an entirely strange look to the tree. As he speculates in the New York Times, genetic mutation shouldn’t be the reason for the crooked trees in Poland. However, any other conclusion which says it was humans who caused these trees to obtain the strange form should be also taken with caution.
Dr. Remphrey does not exclude the possibility that the Crooked Forest was helped along by humans. But he believes it was more likely “something environmental” that caused the deformity. On the question of why all trees are pointed towards the north, the professor remarks that perhaps it was coincidental.
Other theories proposed are not very believable. But since there are a vast number of normal-looking trees around the crooked ones, these also have been put on the table. One of the far-fetched ones is that the trees have gained their extraordinary formation due to a gravitational anomaly–that the gravity is too strong in this specific area. Another one is, of course, the inevitable alien theory, in which some parties reason that extraterrestrials are to blame for the Crooked Forest.
A way more acceptable explanation may be that the strange woodland was handled by local foresters, who have somehow purposely caused the deformity on all crooked pines in the early years of their growth. Reasons to do that? They would have used the wood later as a resource, for producing furniture. Or perhaps, as the north of Poland is historically renowned for its shipyards by the coastline, the curved pine trunks would have perhaps been handy for constructing some vessels.
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If this were the case, then their idea would remain unrealized with the onset of World War Two, as the nearby towns and villages were battered by the Nazi army. Indeed, scarcely anyone was left to share the truth about how the Crooked Forest was created. It will probably remain a mystery forest, leaving the world delighted by its strangeness.