Yes, You Can Be Buried As a Tree — How It Works and Why It’s Becoming so Popular

Traditional burials can hurt the environment and your wallet, but luckily, there are other avenues.

Rayna Skiver - Author
By

Jun. 13 2024, Updated 4:49 p.m. ET

A sunflower growing at the base of a mossy tree.
Source: ISTOCK

When you think of funerals, a conventional casket or coffin might come to mind. It’s usually rare to meet someone who wants to be buried as a tree, let alone a person who understands what it entails.

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So, what is a tree burial, and how does it work? Stick around to learn how to be buried as a tree and what the potential benefits are.

What is a tree burial?

A newly dug grave with a vase of colorful flowers placed on top.
Source: ISTOCK

A tree burial is when a loved one's ashes are buried in a biodegradable vessel of some sort. Typically, seeds or a sapling accompany it, whether attached to the original vessel or simply planted above it, according to Better Place Forests. The pod can also be buried next to or under a tree that has already matured.

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The general idea is that the ashes mixed with the soil and nutrients will help the tree grow or continue to grow, and your loved one will help give life to something new. This burial alternative can create a special and unique place for friends and family to visit and remember someone who has passed on.

For now, tree burials are usually done with cremation-based pods. You might have seen whole-body pods from companies like Capsula Mundi, but those aren’t available on a commercial scale yet. Thankfully, it’s still possible to be buried as a tree, even without this innovative option.

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How to be buried as a tree:

A biodegradable urn sitting on a piece of wood on the ground in a forest.
Source: ISTOCK

If you want to be buried as a tree, there are a few things to consider. First, you will want to look into your state’s rules. Some places allow it with few regulations, while others say it’s okay as long as you meet certain requirements, according to Return Home.

Once you determine your state’s rules, you or your family can move forward with choosing a specific method or company. As mentioned previously, cremation-based pods or urns are the most widely available — since tree burials are becoming more and more popular, it’s possible that funeral homes in your area will have different options.

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While Capsula Mundi's whole-body pods aren’t available yet, the company does sells biodegradable urns. These can be buried in the ground and planted with a tree of your choice. It’s important to note that some pods do not come with a tree or seeds.

When planting a tree, you want to choose a species that is native to your area. This will give it the best shot at growing big and strong. Its ongoing survival could be another reason why you might choose a tree that’s already matured over a sapling.

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On the other hand, the green burial company Transcend uses flax linen to hold the remains. After the biodegradable linen is buried, a young tree is planted above the resting place.

Each company does things a little differently, so it’s crucial to read over all the details.

What are the benefits of a tree burial?

Traditional burials can be extremely expensive, not to mention bad for the environment. While eco-friendly options like tree burials can still be pricey, depending on the company and method, they are generally much more affordable, according to A Greener Funeral.

For those with a passion for our planet, it doesn’t get much better than a tree burial. In a 2022 interview with Green Matters, Transcend founder Matthew Kochmann said: "Transcend’s Tree Burial process ... sequesters almost 6 times more carbon dioxide than a cremation emits."

Not only is this process free of the toxins associated with caskets and embalming, but it also gives back to the environment in the form of a tree.

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