BOSTON (CBS) – Two men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing valuable pieces of trees from city parks.
The Parks and Recreation Department said thieves were taking something called burl, which, according to city arborist Greg Mosman, is a “growth abnormality” that can appear anywhere on a tree trunk.
They’re rare and have a unique grain pattern, so they’re “highly desired” for woodworking, sculpture, and inlays on the interiors of high-end cars, Mosman said.
One expert told WBZ-TV burls can be priceless to some collectors and artists because each one is “one of a kind.”
Police were called Wednesday morning when a man working in Victory Gardens saw two men with chainsaws.
According to the Parks Department, the men were caught with a stash of burls and some drugs in their Fenway apartment.
It’s believed the men were planning to sells the tree knots for drug money.
The Parks Department began asking for the public’s help in finding burl thieves Wednesday. They had noticed an increase in tree vandalism the last six months, especially in the Emerald Necklace and Franklin Park.
Similar incidents have also been reported in Brookline and Watertown.
“The grain inside is just twisted and twirled and a mish-mash,” Julio Fuentes of the Eliot School of Fine and Applied Arts in Jamaica Plain told WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager. “No two pieces are ever identical. A single piece two-foot-by-two-foot-by-three inches thick might sell for $250 or more.”
Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has about 100 burl pieces on display.
Mosman said the damage to the trees is severe enough that it could possibly kill them.
Police are still looking for a third suspect in the thefts.
If you see anything unusual, especially anyone climbing trees or using chainsaws in city parks, the Parks Department would like to hear from you.
You can call the PARKline at (617) 635-7275 or the mayor’s hotline at (617) 635-4500.
WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager contributed to this report.