There’s a strange forest in Russia dubbed the Dancing Forest. There, trees are bent in curious shapes and the exact reason for the strange contortions in the trunks of the trees continues to elude researchers. Located between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian lagoon, there is a forest with a twist. Literally.
Dozens of trees in the odd Russian forest have trunks that are warped into rings, spirals, hearts and convoluted spirals bending to the ground, and no one has been able to explain why. The forest did not always exist. In fact, trees were planted there in the 1960s to stabilize the area’s dune sands. Precisely that, sand is what some people argue is causing the odd shapes of the trees. Locals refer to the forest as the Drunken forest. A number of scientific studies have tried answering the question of what causes the trees to morph like that, but the results have always been inconclusive.
A prevailing theory is that pine shoot moth caterpillars damage the trees at an early age which causes them to start growing with odd shapes with strange angles. Scientists suggest that the caterpillar of the butterfly Rhyacionia buoliana causes damage to the pine shoots, eating developing apical and, to a lesser extent, lateral buds. Once the tree’s apical bud is destroyed, growth can only occur with the help of its less damaged lateral buds. Eventually, because plants need sunlight, they correct themselves as they grow taller, but their odd shapes remain a characteristical feature. But not everyone is convinced by the caterpillar story.
Others say that strong winds can cause the trees to bend and twist, obtaining some of the shapes we see today. Some blame humans. Many others say that the odd shapes of the trees are caused by a clash of positive and negative energies that converge at that eat point. These ‘invisible’ forces have caused the trees to grow with odd shapes. The folk version of the Dancing Forests tells us that the trees have attained their mystery shapes because they follow the movement of the sands beneath them.