Briarwood Pipe

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A briarwood pipe from France.

Briarwood pipes are made from the lignotuber (burl) of Erica arborea, a Mediterranean shrub of the heath family (Ericaceae). Like the burls of manzanita (Arctostaphylos) in the California chaparral, briarwood also resprouts from subterranean basal burls after a brush fire. Due to arid habitats and infertile, rocky soils, it usually takes about 30 years or more for a burl of five to ten pounds to form. A ten pound (4.5 kg) burl is large enough to make about one dozen pipes. Briarwood burls are composed of very dense, fire-resistant wood. The pipes can withstand the heat of burning tobacco which may exceed 700 degrees Fahrenheit. High quality briarwood also absorbs moisture from the tobacco, thus producing a drier smoke that is highly prized by pipe smokers. Compared with other hardwoods, such as hornbeam (Carpinus), beech (Fagus), chestnut (Castanea) and cherry (Prunus), briarwood does not impart an unpleasant taste to the smoke.

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