Redwoods in Stout Grove

Coast Redwood | The Knotty Lady

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Copyright 2015 - 2016 by Mario Vaden


The coast redwood in the background is the Knotty Lady, in Prairie Creek Redwoods. Its whereabouts are off the grid in an abandoned section of the park. Even though larger redwoods grow nearby, it commands almost all the attention of anyone wandering nearby. The man in the photo is Andrew Joslin who illustrated a redwood adventure book for Richard Preston. The burls on this one are more knot-like whereas other redwood burls can seem more textured or layered.

I heard a few people were also looking here for a new discovery like Grogan's Fault as if it were a stone throw from Knotty Lady. But the true immensity of the valley of lost groves is usually unrealized. This valley is huge with many offshoots. More than a mile long and over 1100 acres of dense old growth forest

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knotty lady coast redwood in prairie creek lost groves


The cause of burls is not fully understood. They not rare in the redwoods, but a trunk with this many is unusual. Burls develop from irregular development of growth rings or wood layers.

Had the Knotty Lady been growing next to Drury Parkway, its likely the trunk would have been targeted by the famous burl poacher Danny Garcia of Orick. Good for this redwood that it grows deeper in the forest. More about the burl problem can be read at Burl Poaching

knotty lady redwood portrait coast redwoods

Redwood burls are among the largest in the world. They can be used for woodworking like bowls or furniture. And pieces of burl placed in water to soak can sprout and reproduce.

Image: my first redwood portraiture subject in this grove, wearing hand crafted leather and pheasant feather earrings made by her friend. They are both from Humboldt

This grove is where my quest began with portraiture in the coast redwood forests. I've taken other photos here too, including bark, huckleberry and redwoods. But among all the redwood parks, this is the pin on the map where my redwood portraiture photography had it's origin.

The first person I ever photographed for portraits in this redwood grove was Lotus from Eureka, with dreadlocks and tatoos. I remember learning that day how bokeh from large aperture and shallow depth of field could contend with problems of sunlight on foliage in the background.

My second set of portraits in the grove was another woman from Crescent City with long blonde hair ... the one also seen in the print of Lost Monarch at the lobby of the Curly Redwood Lodge.

knotty lady redwood portrait coast redwoods

One other, Jenni, also helped me learn the ropes with portraiture, but elsewhere in the park, near Boyes Creek and Prairie Creek. She was an acquaintence of the brunette woman.

Image: Jenni and Lotus both know the same lady who makes the feather earrings. This photo uses a coast redwood trunk for the background.

Places to see interesting burls

There are a few suggestions where you can see redwoods with unusual looking burls. My site has another page called Redwood Faces and Shapes which deals more with individual burls.

If you want to a see a couple of burl redwoods that have several burls, a couple of interesting specimens stand next to James Irvine trail and also Miners Ridge trail. The Gargoyle Redwood on Miners Ridge trail has a lot of burls on the lower trunk that are easier to photograph for conversation.

In a nutshell, the grove with The Knotty Lady coast redwood was the cornerstone or beginning of my redwood photography. All my portraiture including city, studio, rivers, beach and forest, had it's roots here in a little spot of this hidden valley.

You could say this grove was the Petri dish of my portrait work.

I return to this valley about once or twice per year to photograph plants and redwoods under different natural lighting. There are redwoods, spruce, hemlock, skunk cabbage, mushrooms and on occassion, Roosevelt Elk. The elk will wander over a mile into the heart of the park.

My last encounter with elk in Prairie Creek was not this valley, but about 1.5 miles into Prairie Creek park along a stretch of James Irvine trail. The elk was feeding on tips of fern fronds about 70 ft. off the trail.