Kelo is the Finnish term used to describe ancient northern pine trees which have stopped growing and dehydrated while remaining standing in place.
The resulting wood has a shimmering silvery surface and a reddish core. The further North the tree has grown the deeper and richer the red colour of the core. When the tree stops growing, after some 300 to 500 years, several decades of dehydration take place. During this process the tree loses its bark but can remain standing for hundreds of years.
In Lapland, reindeer are also said to “Kelo Change” in August and September when their new antlers lose their soft velvety covering. Kelo wood is very strong and far more stable and durable than freshly regular wood. This is because the Kelo wood is almost always spiral grained. As the tree grows, it spirals upwards, normally counter-clockwise, winding up from left to right from the bottom. There are many ideas of what causes this. Perhaps it’s the Coriolis force, or the different Solar Cycle in the high Northern latitudes.
Products made from Kelo wood have a rustic and natural quality and, although they are already very old, will continue to expand and contract over the years, with the varying levels of moisture and heat, developing further character. The way in which the wood has formed also leaves it with a lovely “tarry” smell which is so wonderfully reminiscent of Lapland.
In the old days, Kelo wood was only used as firewood, but now it is much in demand as a building material for log-cabins and for a range of furniture making and handicrafts.