Tree Pod Burial: How To Turn Your Body Into A Tree After Death

tree pod burial
Tree Pod burial is a natural burial concept designed by Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel that uses Capsula Mundi or “burial pods” to inter whole bodies or cremated remains. A tree is planted on top of the biodegradable burial pod or bio urn and is fertilized by the remains. Currently, only the bio urn option is available.

Funerals have become very commercialized and also very expensive. Traditional ways of handling death and burial cost the environment as well. Tree pod burial is an option that makes a positive environmental impact.

In a tree pod burial, the human remains eventually become a living tree. Sound like the things science fiction movies are made of? Maybe so, but the approach has many advantages.

The Dilemmas Of Traditional Burial

Cemeteries are slowly taking over green space for burial grounds as the population grows exponentially. In addition to its land requirements, traditional burial requires the use of toxic chemicals to embalm the body. The formaldehyde used leeches eventually into the ground.

One way to approach this is through more natural burial. In some countries, a traditional burial does not include embalming, and the deceased is put into the ground in a simple wooden casket. The concept behind this is that only biodegradable material should be put into the ground.

Some individuals are strongly against using burial plots and lean toward cremation as a more eco-friendly option. However, even cremation is not without environmental impact.

Tree pod burial

What Is Tree Pod Burial?

Two Italian designers, Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli, gave people a new alternative with what could be viewed as a revolutionary approach to burial sites. In the place of cemeteries and stark graveyards could be trees filled with green space, breathing new life into communities. Trees in place of tombstones? That is exactly the plan.

In an attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of death, the human body can be put into a pod, the pod placed in a natural burial site, and a tree grows on top. Of course, this type of burial is not without controversy, as you can imagine.

What Is The Capsula Mundi Project?

Unveiled in 2003 in Milan, Italy, the Capsula Mundi project envisions placing bodies in an egg-shaped pod. The deceased would be placed in the pod in the fetal position and the pod buried in the earth like a seed. On top of that pod, a tree is planted.

Another option is for the body to be cremated, with the ashes placed into a smaller pod. Just like in the other type of burial, the cremated remains inside the pod are buried with a tree on top of them. The remains fertilize the tree and help breathe new life into the world.

The Capsula Mundi urn is a biodegradable urn and can be purchased online. The cost is currently $370 US, plus the cost of the tree sapling.

The concept is so intriguing that tree pods are included among relevant design projects noted by the New York Museum of Modern Art.

A pod feeds a tree

Is Tree Pod Burial A Form Of Natural Burial?

A natural burial is one where no toxic embalming fluids are used. Caskets or urns are biodegradable, and there is no cement vault used in the burial. You can have a natural burial inside of a regular cemetery.

A green burial is a shift in burial practices for many people. Much like a natural burial, in a green burial, everything is biodegradable so that the body (and everything buried with it) can return to the earth). In a green burial, the cemetery (or a portion of an existing cemetery designated as green) only allows for green burials. There are no standard headstones marking graves. The environmental impact is almost zero.

There are funeral homes and cemeteries that specialize in green burials and offer this option to people who do not want their death to have a negative environmental impact. The list of vendors is growing but click for current providers.

A tree pod burial is a form of a natural or green burial. Prior to the burial of the egg and planting of the sapling, the family could have funeral services in a church or maybe a graveyard service, followed by a celebration of life gathering.

Is It Available For Burial Of Whole Bodies And Cremated Remains?

At this point, the tree pod burial is only available for cremated remains. The plan to offer tree pod burial for a whole body is still in the logistical stages. Even the cremation form is not without its critics. Cremation uses a lot of energy and creates pollutants.

Is Tree Pod Burial Legal?

Tree pod burials are accepted in the United States. You can purchase a pod to put your loved one’s cremated remains within. When you plant the pod, it becomes a living urn as the tree grows atop it.

Countries such as Italy still do not allow the tree pod burial of entire bodies.

Planting the sapling

Where Can You Get Tree Pod Burial?

You can use tree pod burial on private property or in a natural burial cemetery. Once you have your body in the tree pod urn, there are few laws dictating what you do with those ashes if you are on private property. The property does not have to be your own; you just need to have permission.

There are even some states and countries where you can scatter ashes on public property if it is not inhabited by people.

Natural burial laws are evolving., but you can see the current laws for your state here.

The State Of Tree Pod Burial Options

If you live in the United States, you can get a tree pod online and plan your own tree pod burial.

The pods that are used for an entire body, in lieu of a casket or a coffin, are not yet available.


Pam Berg is a former English teacher with a passion for writing. She has written for many years on a variety of topics and considers herself to be somewhat of a jack of all trades when it comes to writing. Although most of us tend to want to avoid the topic of death, whether it is us or a loved one, it is inevitable. Pam is dedicated to ensuring that as people are funeral planning they have access to a no-nonsense, straightforward laying out of the facts. However, she also recognizes that this is a topic that needs to be approached in a sensitive manner.

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