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, "kissing" upward of 4 hiking trails. Maybe think twice before getting lost in this big expanse..

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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

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.

Where can you see burls like this?

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.

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

My second practice subject in the grove was a woman from Crescent City, with a natural look and long blonde hair. She is the one seen in some print canvases like one in the lobby of the Curly Redwood Lodge Motel. The first subject was Lotus from Eureka, with dreadlocks and tatoos.

knotty lady redwood portrait coast redwoods

We also practiced at several other locations including the waterfront park near the Carson Mansion and old town Eureka.

Image: hand crafted leather and pheasant feather earrings made by her friend in Arcata

In a nutshell, the location of the Knotty Lady redwood was another cornerstone of my redwood photography. All my portraiture now, both city and forest, had its roots here in a little niche of the 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 rare occassions Roosevelt Elk. The Elk will wander over a mile into the heart of the park.