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Steve Nix

Arborglyphs and Tree Carvings

By January 21, 2013

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Most of us have seen "arborglyphs" and may have even created one at some time in the past. Arborglyphs and tree carvings have received little scientific attention until Joxe Mallea's Basque Sheepherder studies on quaking aspen arborglyphs popularized the subject.

Arborglyphs are carvings on trees that record names, dates, images, even poetry and prose. Beech, birch and aspen have traditionally been the trees of choice, preferred by most "artists". These species' smooth bark and light color makes a ready-made canvas for carving. Some consider arborglyphs to be a legitimate form of artistic expression and honor trees with these carvings. Others think it is just so much graphitti and another form of tree defacement. Most forest owners do not encourage the practice of carving on their trees.

U.S. Forest Service Photo

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