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Wise Tree
Giant wooden mustache optional.

"107. Arbor Day Rule: At some point, you're going to have to talk to a tree and do what it says."

Trees are useful. They provide us with fruit, shade, wood, paper, oxygen, and many other things we couldn't live without. Some trees offer knowledge.

The Wise Tree is always willing to help the Hero out. Sure, it might not be able to fight, but what it lacks in power, it makes up in eloquence. It is often more than willing to teach others the ways of the world, stories of the ancient past, or the villain's weakness. It's not often explained just how it knows so much, but it's usually because they are older than time itself.

Wise Trees are almost always on the side of good. On occasion they may be True Neutral, simply choosing not to get involved with the conflict.

Naturally a Justified Trope since particularly large trees tend to be exceptionally old, and age equals wisdom, obviously. Plus, inasmuch as unless you are going to have Walking Trees, then a tree character isn't going to be able to contribute much physically or materially, and so their importance will rely on their contribution in knowledge and wisdom. Vice-versa, if a writer wants a character who dispenses wisdom but doesn't actually get involved, then making them a Wise Tree is a good justification for them not lifting a hand to help.

May sometimes overlap with The Mentor, Genius Loci or World Tree. Related to The Owl-Knowing One. A type of Nature Spirit and Plant Person.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • An episode and corresponding manga chapter of InuYasha had Sesshomaru consulting an ancient tree demon about Inuyasha's Superpowered Evil Side.
  • Jureimon (Cherrymon) is this in Digimon Savers and Digimon World. He also played a sinister version of this in Digimon Adventure, serving as a villainous advisor for Pinocchimon (Puppetmon), who kills him when he says something (entirely true) that Pinocchimon doesn't want to hear.
  • Kabu from Kirby of the Stars. Kabu appears as an enemy in most of the games, but in the anime, he's much bigger and serves as an oracle and guardian to the Cappies (like the Deku Tree). He also houses the warp star when it's not in use. He may technically be a wooden statue, although he appears to be a tree.

     Fairy Tales  

  • In some variations of the Cinderella fairytale, including the version recorded by The Brothers Grimm, instead of a fairy godmother there's a tree that was planted at Cinderella's dead mother's grave and Cinderella's dead mother's spirit lives in the tree and grants her wishes.

     Film  

  • Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas is a wise tree, who acts as a spiritual guide to Pocahontas throughout the film.
  • Subverted in Poltergeist. The dad tucks his son in, but the son is worried about the scary tree outside. Dad tells him a story about that being an old, wise tree. After the dad leaves, the tree comes to life, crashes through the window, grabs the kid and tries to eat him. Take a look.
  • The Tree of Souls in Avatar. By "plugging into" it, the Na'vi could hear the voices of their ancestors.

     Literature  

  • Treebeard and the Ents from The Lord of the Rings.
  • The Minoa Tree in the Inheritance Cycle.
  • The novel Down Town is about a young boy's attempt to save an ancient Wise Tree from forces that seek to destroy her.
  • The tree Christ's cross was made from in Dream of the Rood.
  • The Wise Man's Fear has an evil Wise Tree called the Cthaeh, though it might be a being sealed within the tree, not the tree itself. It possesses perfect knowledge of possible futures and absolute malice toward everything. While all the advice it gives to heroes is absolutely true, it will always steer the listener toward disaster. Could be considered an inversion in that the knowledge is non beneficial. Or at least a subversion of the common benevolent trees.
  • Baffor trees in the Star Wars Expanded Universe are sentient if in great numbers. Ithorians revere them. In Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, an Ithorian has a small grove underground on Tatooine to advise them; during the story one is killed, and the trees' collective mind can't advise him. In Galaxy of Fear, Tash once tries to connect to a grove through the Force.
  • The Giving Tree was probably meant as an example of this, but many readers (and the Sassy Gay Friend) would disagree.
  • In So You Want To Be A Wizard, Nita has a nice chat with the rowan tree behind her house, who reassures her that trees don't hate humans for cutting them down and offers her a branch that she needs for a spell.
  • The father trees of the Pequeninos turn out to be this in the sequel novels to Orson Scott Card's Ender’s Game, or at least some of them do. Human is pretty wise, but maybe not all of them are, and one of them turns out to be a murderer—not at all a stupid murderer, mind you, but not exactly wise.
  • The weirwoods of A Song of Ice and Fire are believed by the Northmen and the Wildlings to be the physical representations of their gods, although it is strongly suggested that that belief is the heavily altered memory of a time when human Greenseers could possess trees and see and hear through them, and in any case, the trees do not talk, although the more religious among the Northmen and Wildlings do believe that their gods do commune with them indirectly through the weirwoods. In any case, this example at least plays with the trope.
  • The Ellcrys in The Elfstones Of Shannarra was a sapient tree, although she rarely communicated with others; she seemed pretty wise.
    • The Tanequil is another sapient tree in the world of Shannara, although how wise he/she was is up for debate.

     Mythology  

  • There was a Greek legend of two philosophers arguing under an elm tree. The tree joined in the conversation.
  • Druids were said to talk to oak trees for guidance.
  • In Indian mythology, the Tree of the Sun and Moon could tell the future. It spoke as a male during the day and as a woman during the night.

     Music  

     Tabletop Games  

  • Eberron's NPC with the highest given level (level 20 druid) is a talking tree, not a "treant," but an animated tree.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Sylvan Hermitree, which makes sense as hermits are sometimes known for their wisdom. He is one of the strongest monsters in the archetype. He even has a miko named Mikorange.
    • Sylvan Sagequoia, who is called "Sherman, Wise Tree of Shinra" in the OCG.

     Video Games  

  • The Great Deku Tree and the Deku Sprout from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Its descendant appears in The Wind Waker, and it or an ancestor may be in Skyward Sword, though it doesn't speak.
  • The Grand Oak from Dragon Age: Origins.
    • To be more specific: it's a tree possessed by a demon from a different plane, which talks in couplets. Being Dragon Age you can beat it up instead.
  • The Wood Spirit in The Longest Journey's prologue.
  • The Dryad in Quest for Glory I protects the forest and gives the hero advise on how to make a dispel potion.
  • The Green Man, a forest spirit who appears as an ancient, large oak in Conquests of the Longbow will help Robin if he will provide the answers to his riddles.
  • The Tree of Wisdom in Plants vs. Zombies gives the player tips, cheat codes that have very little effect on gameplay, and plant puns. It doesn't have a face, though.
  • There was one of these in Breath of Fire II, though it was suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia, and getting the information you needed from him required a Journey to the Center of the Mind to defeat the monster responsible for said amnesia.
    • Breath of Fire III had Yggdrasil the great tree of wisdom, who was also a Master in the game and could teach you various spells and stat changes. It's implied that party member Peco is one of its seedlings.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic 3. Some maps had wise old oaks in them who would grant you a level, once per hero, either in exchange for some gems/gold or just out of boredom.
  • Fallout 3's Harold, to an extent.
  • Wise Wisterwood of Paper Mario. You could go to the door either to go back to Toad Town or to get a hint as to what you should be doing next.
  • Jurak in both Dark Cloud games. Also, Father Yggdra in White Knight Chronicles II.
  • Subverted in Golden Sun. You meet a giant tree, but then discover he's not the nicest fellow. At least, not until you defeat the anger in his heart.
    • Laurel in Dark Dawn also counts. Upon meeting her, Amiti's immediate reaction is to bow in worship, then scold the others for not doing the same. "We're in the presence of an enlightened being. Bow your heads!"
      • And Laurel promptly rebukes him for doing so, since she doesn't really see herself as special. She's just like any other sapient, psychic tree spirit who's lived for hundreds of years...
  • Nyarlim and Akara from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. They are part of a group of twelve such trees which are all the offspring of the original World Tree of the setting.
  • The talking tree in the swamp in King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, who dispenses advice at the cost of a gold coin. Connor lampshades this by asking why a tree would need money.
  • There are a series of "Trents" in Shining Wisdom that help Mars through the woods and save the princes/swan.
  • RuneScape has spirit trees, which are capable of speech, can transport others between spirit trees and have protective properties.
  • The Elderoot Tree in WildStar. Not just a magic talking tree, he's a magic talking CYBORG tree. He gets blown up before he tells you anything useful unfortunately. But only after he sends you on some inane quests, as is par for the course.
  • Treant is a talking tree from Dark Coud who gives Toan a sword to defeat the Killer Snake guarding the way in a local dungeon.

     Web Original  

  • The Dendros line of creatures in Uni Creatures are enormous, sentient trees, the final stage being described as a "repository of knowledge and wisdom."

     Western Animation  

  • Family Guy: Peter Griffin once spoke to a forest full of talking trees, when he was pretending to be Native American. Unfortunately, talkative though they were, they were a subversion of the Wise Tree trope. They provided no insight whatever.
  • The epiphitrees from The Simpsons Movie.
  • Nowhere had a Wise Tree on Courage the Cowardly Dog. It gave Courage wise advice, but Eustace was jealous of it. Courage was forced to stop defending it to help Muriel, and it was cut down. It planned this however, and the cure for Muriel's sickness was in its branches.
  • The old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon had the Forest of Know Trees — i.e., Trees that Knew Everything.
  • An episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) had Skytree, the oldest living being on the planet Eternia, whom He-Man was told to cut down by the Dragon King Granamyr in order to have his friend Man-At-Arms restored (after Skeletor turned him into crystal.) Despite the tree actually agreeing to be cut (!) He-Man cannot do it, as he cannot bring himself to kill a sentient being. Turns out it was just a Secret Test of Character to find out if he deserved the Dragon's help. Granamyr restores Man-at-Arms anyway.


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