from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An area of stunted windblown trees growing at high elevations on mountain slopes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Dense low matted bushes at the tree-line.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[German Krummholz : krumm, crooked; see krummhorn + Holz, wood (from Middle High German holz, from Old High German).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

German bent wood



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  • The normal definition: German for 'twisted wood'

    This is a slightly more scientific explanation:

    Krummholz Line: Krummholz is a growth form followed the trees at locations of great environmental stress, such as high wind. At lower elevations, where more favorable conditions exist, the same species that form into krummholz grow upright. The krummholz line is the upper-most limit in elevation that trees in krummholz form exist.

    -A Definition of Treeline

    If you want to see some of the earth's most twisted trees that are easily accessible, come visit Rocky Mountain National park and drive up Trail Ridge Road.

    April 8, 2007

  • Note re "Getting high" list: I added this word at John's suggestion, and a fine suggestion it was.

    January 17, 2008

  • See also chordee

    January 17, 2008

  • <blockquote>Though it may seem contradictory, there are trees growing above the timberline. Scattered here and there unprotected or slightly shielded locations, spruce, fir, white bark pine, or limber pine may be found trying to make a stand. Like ancient bonsai, dwarfed and gnarly little trees struggle for decades or perhaps even centuries in an ecology that is defined in part by their absence. The phenomenon is referred to collectively as krummholz, and the term is applied to any species of conifer that will choose to survive in an otherwise treeless alpine environment.</blockquote>

    Joe Hutto, The Light in High Places: A Naturalist Looks at Wyoming Wilderness, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Cowboys, and Other Rare Species (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2009), ch. 7

    October 31, 2015