Binomen N/A
Body type Limpet-like
Average length 2-3' across
Sapience Non-sapient
Aggressivity Default: Harmless
Against Harmers of Nature: Very high
Place of origin Prime Material Plane
Habitat Forests
Diet Life energy
Locomotion Woody, muscled foot
Subspecies Direburr
Status Endangered (Listed as "rare" in-game)
Behind the Scenes
Universe Dungeons & Dragons
Created by Gary Gygax

Barkburrs are limpet-like plants magically created from the forests themselves to defend themselves against would-be aggressors.

Monster Manual descriptions

2nd Edition

Barkburrs are a form of animated plant that arise spontaneously within a wood or forest in order to defend it. They are anatomically similar to limpets, having a very hard, woody carapace (armor class 0) which shields a soft woody interior (armor class 8).

They will always be encountered in their lair, which will consist of 1 or more oddly shaped trees (the metamorphosed remains of past victims; see below). The barkburrs attach themselves to a tree where they are very hard to distinguish from ordinary burrs. Only druids and rangers have any chance of recognizing a barkburr for what it is (4% chance plus 1% per level). Such lairs will normally be on paths through a wood where travellers are likely to pass.

Barkburrs are extremely sensitive to actions which conflict with the interests of the forest they live in and are capable of detecting such an act (basically anything which a druid would find abhorrent) occurring within a radius of 1 mile. They will attack any humanoid creature coming within 20 feet if it has performed such an act within a radius of 1 mile and/or if its alignment includes an evil component.

A barkburr attacks by leaping suddenly from the supporting tree towards its intended victim who may be up to 20 feet away. Because of its camouflage it will always gain surprise unless recognized. It will attempt to attach its soft underside to the victim's body and then insert a sharp, barbed tube (inflicting 1 point of damage). For determining the success or failure of this whole attack routine (which takes but a single round) it should be treated as a single attack by a 6 hit dice monster.

If the attack fails, the barkburr falls to the ground where it is practically helpless (see below). If the attack succeeds, in the next round the barkburr will begin to inject a lignifying poison into the victim. This injection will continue for up to 2 rounds plus 1 round for each of the barkburr's hit dice. Each round the victim must save vs. poison or lignification will set in. Lignification involves a rapid transformation of the victim into a small tree: feet become roots, body and legs the trunk, and head and arms branches. The transformation takes 1 turn, and once started it will not cease even if the barkburr is killed and/or removed. Most of the victim's equipment close to his body (clothes, armor, etc.) is enclosed by bark, but some (e.g., a sword, a shield or a ring) may remain hanging from a branch or be caught in the roots. Of the gear which is enclosed, all but magical items, gold, silver, platinum, and gems will be absorbed into the wood of the tree over a period of 2-7 hours.

A barkburr may be removed from its victim (before or after lignification has set in) by killing it, applying fire, or by force. Attacks on the barkburr are made against its armor class 0 carapace, and attacks which miss should be rolled again against the victim's armor class. The application of fire has a 15% cumulative chance per round of dislodging the barburr, which takes only 1 point of fire damage per round from fire applied to the outer carapace, but the victim will take fire damage unless protected. It is not possible to remove a barkburr by pulling it directly away from the victim, but pulling or pushing it sideways will succeed if a roll of 5d10 is less than the total strength being applied. This latter method will inflict 1-10 points of damage on the character, if successful, as the barbed poison needle is torn out. A maximum of 3 people, including the victim, can act together to attempt to remove the barkburr in this way.

On the ground a barkburr is almost helpless; unable to leap from this position, it can only crawl at ½" and is easily flipped over to reveal its armor class 8 underside. Fire applied to the underside inflicts normal damage.

Since they have no minds as such, barkburrs are immune to spells such as charm monster or sleep.

Once lignification has set in the barkburr will cease injecting poison and use the victim as a platform from which to launch an attack on any other eligible victim within 20 feet. Note, however, that a barkburr is only capable of injecting poison for a total of 2 rounds plus 1 round per hit die each day. Note also that the poison is only effective if injected by a barkburr.

Once lignified, a creature begins a further transformation into a form which is safe from the point of view of the wood. This process takes as many days as the victim has levels or hit dice, and during this time the victim remains helpless in tree form (having armor class 10 and its original number of hit points). At the end of the period the victim either remains fixed in its tree form or undergoes a rapid metamorphosis into a woodland creature or a druid. The final form adopted is determined by rolling a percentile die and consulting the following table:

01-50 = ordinary healthy tree (which grows to full size within 2 months)
51-70 adult badger
71-80 = adult giant weasel
81-90 = treant (7 hit dice)
91+ = druid (1st level, abilities; S,I,D,Co - as before; W14, CH 16)

For creatures whose original alignment included a neutral component add 10 to the die roll; for true neutral creatures add 20.

A creature who adopts any final form other than that of the druid will have no desire whatever to leave the wood and will resist attempts to make him do so.

Only a full wish will restore a creature to its original form once the transformation is completed. While the transformation is still in progress, however, the victim may be restored by means of a wish, limited wish, polymorph other, turn wood or plant growth (cast backwards). Neutralize poison has a 30% chance of success plus 5% per level of the caster. Note that any of these spells (including neutralize poison) will negate the initial lignification process if cast before it is completed (i.e. within 1 turn). Cure disease, remove curse, dispel magic, etc., will have no effect. Restored creatures will have lost 1 level or hit die for each full day spent in tree form.

Barkburrs grow as a result of absorbing the energy levels of their victims, and they reproduce by budding. There is a 50% chance that a 6 hit dice barkburr will have 1 or 2 2-hit dice offspring budding from it which will attack independently.


Unwholesome woods and forests will produce direburrs that will attack any humanoid coming within 20 feet regardless of his past actions or alignment. The results of their attacks are the same as for the ordinary barkburr except that the final form adopted by a lignified victim is always a dry, dead, leafless tree which cannot be restored by any means short of a full wish. Otherwise, direburrs are identical to barkburrs in all respects.