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Some characters live in trees. Not in a tree house, but actually inside a hollow tree trunk. Usually there will be a doorway in one side of the trunk, and a substantial space inside. More elaborate arboreal abodes may have front steps, windows, back doors, and even chimneys visible from the outside. The nicest ones have several fully-furnished rooms inside.

This usually leads to a lot of Fridge Logic if one starts to seriously think about it. How is the tree alive and green if it's been hollowed out? (While dead trees are an option, they are usually shown as green and vibrant.) How can you fit an entire two-bedroom apartment on the inside of a tree? How are there windows in the upper leaves that should logically only have the thin ends of branches behind them? Don't expect any of these questions to be answered.note 

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The use of this trope often shows that the characters are woodsy or in a nature-based setting. For the trope to be in effect the tree actually has to be converted in some manner to serve as a house. A squirrel living in a hole in a tree doesn't count because that's just what squirrels do.

If you can play through one of those in a video game, then it's a Tree Trunk Tour as well. See also Mushroom House, Tree Top Town and Treehouse of Fun.


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Examples

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    Advertising 
  • The Keebler elves (mascot of Keebler, an American cookie and cracker maker) live inside a tree, which is used as part of the company logo.

    Comic Books 
  • The Wolfriders in ElfQuest live in a "Father Tree" that's subdivided into several homes. Fully justified because their tree-shapers can keep a tree alive and well while sculpting it into the required shape.
  • In The Smurfs comic book story "The Wild Smurf", the Smurfs build an arboreal abode to hide themselves in when Gargamel is able to find the Smurf Village after a fire had wiped out a good portion of the Smurf Forest. After Gargamel had been taken into custody by the local authorities and the Smurfs are able to return to their village, Wild Smurf remains living in the empty abode with the squirrels.
  • Asterix: In Asterix and the Missing Scroll, the great druid Archaeopterix’s house is build inside a gigantic oak tree. Complete with water mill.
  • The Outsiders, were introduced in Jimmy Olsen's comic books, and they live in "Habitat" a complete city within gigantic trees.

    Comic Strips 
  • Many of the characters in Pogo live inside hollowed out trees.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Home Tree in Avatar is honeycombed with natural spaces where the Na'vi live. It's a huge tree, comparable to a skyscraper but much wider. The weak points in its structural integrity are a plot point.
  • In Tall Tale, Paul Bunyan is living in a Californian Sequoia forest. (In this version, he's a very large guy but not a giant as he was in the original tall tales.) He's converted the trunk of a single felled Sequoia into a spacious house.
  • Into the Woods: Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother lives inside a hollowed-out tree, with all of the furniture you would expect to find in a normal cottage.

    Literature 
  • In My Side of the Mountain Sam makes his home in a tree. It's probably one of the more realistic examples you're likely to find because the occupancy is exactly one person and a few small personal items. Even adding his pet falcon is pushing it.
  • The Berenstain Bears live in a beautifully furnished tree, complete with windows in the crown.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, the turtle wizard Clothahump's home is inside a massive oak tree that's larger on the inside than the outside, though it's really expensive to cast that spell because it causes inflation.
  • Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic has the useless wizard Rincewind captured by classical Graecian tree-spirits, the Dryads. They have resolved the "we live in a tree but the tree is still green and flourishes, indeed we and the tree need each other to thrive" paradox by being multi-dimensional - indeed their Tree shares many attributes of a TARDIS of Doctor Who fame, by being far larger on the inside than on the outside. The Tree of the Dryads and the great forest tree they seemingly inhabit may not occupy exactly the same dimension of space-time...
  • Larry Niven's The Integral Trees has an example of this In Space: a neutron star orbited by a ring-shaped cloud of breathable gas, where huge, multi-kilometer-long "integral trees" orbited within and provided shelter, nourishment, and raw materials for humans who colonized the system.
  • Many of the characters in Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Pooh himself most notably.
  • In Hair made of Starlight, an "Arabian Nights" Days-esque adaptation of Rapunzel, the heroine Saffron lives at the top of a giant tree in a desert instead of a tower in the forest.
  • In Bored of the Rings, the elves of Lornadoon live inside hollowed out dead trees.
  • The protagonists of the In Desert And Wilderness spend some time living in a naturally hollowed-out trunk of a baobab tree. It's treated fairly realistically - they have to clear layers of compost and get out various previous inhabitants, such as insects and reptiles, but the trunk still provides better shelter than tents. Also, baobabs are huge.
  • Books of the Raksura: The "mountain-trees" are colossal magical trees, hundreds or thousands of yards high, whose branches and canopies support entire ecosystems, including forests of smaller trees. To create colonies, the Draconic Humanoid Raksura implant a mountain-tree with a magical seed that lets them shape the tree's growth and form huge networks of rooms within the trunk. The downside of this is that a colony tree will slowly die if its seed is removed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe, X the Owl lived behind a door on the trunk of a tree. (Henrietta Pussycat lived in the same tree, but in a small house attached to a branch, so that doesn't count.)

    Podcasts 
  • One pops up in the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic. The town where Janus' castle is located is built atop the roots of a giant tree, and the tree itself has been transformed into the royal palace.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In the Dragon magazine #73 module "Forest of Doom," the Drow have hollowed out part of a gigantic tree and built a fortress inside of it.
    • The Horde boxed set. In the forests of the Ama Basin can be found Panjuis, the Pixie Fortress. It consists of three giant trees grown together and hollowed out for occupation by the inhabitants.
    • Module UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cavern. A group of 5 leprechauns lives inside a giant hollow oak tree, and two dryads each live inside two other oak trees.
    • Dungeon magazine #49 adventure "Lenny O'Brien's Pot O'Gold". The leprechaun Lenny O'Brien hollows out the trunk of an old willow tree and turns it into a home, complete with a kitchen, a bedroom and a den.
    • White Dwarf magazine #77 adventure "A Secret Wish". The Durmast Oak was planted by the Vala Yavanna before the beginning of the First Age. It was later hollowed out by a group of hobbits, whose descendants live inside it.
    • Polyhedron magazine #49, article "The For-Rest Inn". The title inn is a giant hollowed-out oak tree in Ravenloft, the Living City. It is also the home of the innkeeper, the dryad Thistledew Vine.
  • Traveller Classic supplement Alien Module 8 - Darrians: Secret of the Star Trigger. When the Darrians were first brought to their new planet, they lived inside large hollowed out trees. The trees grew nutritious fruits for them to eat.
  • Encounter Critical supplement Asteroid 1618. In the Domed City a number of elves live inside a giant staroak tree.
  • Legendary Lives. Elven communities live inside the hollowed-out trunks of giant trees.

    Theater 
  • Ariel, from Shakespeare's The Tempest, is found by the sorcerer Prospero inside a tree, though whether the spirit lives there or is merely caught is sometimes debated.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • The SNES RPG Sailor Moon: Another Story has the Sailor Senshi splitting up and going around the world. Sailor Jupiter visits the exotic, mysterious land of Canada where people live inside trees.
  • The residents of Fortree City in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
  • The citizens of Cleyra in Final Fantasy IX live in a giant tree that is protected by a sandstorm.
  • Xenoblade has Frontier Village, home of the Nopon. It's a massive monstrosity of a hollow tree that borders on Layered Metropolis, with its 9 levels connected by stairs and rope bridges. Oh, it also has a small lake on its top and a massive floating sea above it.
  • In Touhou series, the side materials reveal that fairies live inside trees, flowers, and any parts of nature. These fairy houses are invisible to humans, who see them as normal trees.
  • Though only seen from a distance, the age of Narayan's Lattice Tree in Myst III: Exile looks like one of these, except it's an entire city. Ditto for the age of Tay in the sequel, Riven.
  • The home base in Secret Paths in the Forest could manifest as a hollowed-out and decorated old tree. In this example, the hollow tree was actually dead, making more sense than most — if you ignore the whole "shapeshifting to be a log cabin or a treehouse depending on the player's preference" thing.
  • Subverted by elves in Dwarf Fortress. Elves are able to shape trees to suit their needs, but they only just make platforms and walkways using this ability.
  • The eleventh installment of the Dark Parables focuses on a location called the Dire Tree, which is this trope taken Up to Eleven - an entire kingdom is inside the hollow tree.
  • In Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink, the wizard Strangeblood's hut is inside a large, hollow tree.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 3 has Greenwood Village, where all the buildings are hollowed out trees, including Anna's house.

    Web Animation 
  • Bitey of Brackenwood lives inside a hollow tree, in pretty primitive lodgings. The witch Lemony Wee lives in a somewhat more urbane pink tower on top of a tree.
  • Ashe of Thrilling Intent grew up a house carved into the trunk of a large tree.

    Web Comics 
  • Fairly common in Kevin & Kell: The title characters and the recently married Lindesfarne and Fenton have residences in large hollowed-out trees. This is often lampshaded and played with (for example, the homeowners' association complaining that the Dewclaws have changed their colour scheme without permission when it's autumn; the association all live in evergreens).
  • Daisy Owl and her family live in one, which probably isn't up to code.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, the Anwyn of Gillitie Wood use magic to shape trees into structural supports for their houses. This is mainly shown in the side comic "Annie in the Forest".
  • Terezi from Homestuck lived in one of these, and used the branches to hang the stuffed animals she found guilty.
  • In Sandra and Woo, Woo's girlfriend Lily lives in a tree. This is not unexpected, given that she's a racoon, but her hole in the tree has woven rugs and a pool table.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Houses built directly into living trees are something of a recurring theme.
    • During the first three seasons, Twilight Sparkle lives in a tree with room not only for living quarters, but for an entire library. It's a fairly classic example, with habitable space throughout its height and numerous windows poking through the canopy. It's destroyed in Twilight's Kingdom Part II, prompting her to move into a castle made of crystal instead, though even that looks somewhat treelike and came from a tree.
    • Zecora also lives inside of a tree, though hers has fewer books and more cauldrons and medicinal herbs. Only the bottom of the trunk is hollowed out to live in, though, and the canopy and branches are unmodified.
    • Mage Meadowbrook likewise lived inside a large tree in the Hayseed Swamp, and her descendant Cattail still does. It's the most visible atypical Arboreal Abode in the show, as — besides consisting of a tangled mass of vines and stems rather than having a single trunk — it has now windows, but only a small door at its base. When Twilight and Fluttershy visit in "A Health of Information", Twilight remarks that "anyone who lives in a tree is okay by me", in a callback to her own tree-based house.
    • The hippogriffs of Mount Aris live in houses built into enormous living trees, with doors at their bases, windows spiraling up their trunks and large, glass-sided chambers nested in the canopies, their walls growing directly from the trunks. The effect is that their city looks as much like a lush, open forest as it does like a typical settlement.
    • At the end of "Uprooted", the students build a treehouse out of the wicked remnants of the Tree of Harmony that is sparked by their friendship into transforming into a living, crystalline treehouse reminiscent of Twilight's old library in appearance.
  • Bugs Bunny lives in a tree in at least one cartoon, "The Case of the Missing Hare".
  • Parodied on The Simpsons. In "Saddlesore Galactica", horse racing jockeys are revealed to actually be subterranean elf-like creatures who live in "a fiberglass tree".
  • Finn and Jake from Adventure Time live in one.
  • Norrie lives in a tree in Hey Duggee.
  • So does Wubbzy in Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!.
  • Chip and Dale lived in a furnished base in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door The Kids Next Door have their Home Base in a tree; they all have regular houses to go back to but they spend all day there anyway.
  • Slappy Squirrel from Animaniacs lived in a tree, one with electricity so she could watch TV in there.
  • Attempted with The Smurfs in the episode "Skyscraper Smurfs" when Architect and Handy build a smurfominium inside a hollowed-out tree. After a fire destroyed it, the Smurfs preferred living in their village over living in a tree together.
  • In the Columbia The Fox and the Crow cartoons, Crawford Crow has a home in a tree with an elevator to ground level.
  • The 'Raccoondominium' is one of these. Justified somewhat by one of the specials, which states that the trees are big enough for this sort of thing. In the later episodes, we find out that Bentley and Lisa's home is one as well. However, interior wise, it's much closer to a suburban home than the hollowed out look of the 'Raccoondominium'. (It even has a garage!)
  • The animated version of Peter Rabbit lives in one. Mr. Tod's lair is a variation, as it's a house built into the roots of a tree.
  • Sandy on SpongeBob SquarePants takes it a step further. Not only does she live inside a tree, but that tree is inside an underwater dome.
  • Harvey Beaks lives in a two-story house partially built out of a tree. Fee and Foo live high up in the branches. Most of the other houses are conventionally constructed, though Randl's business (which might also be his living quarters) is entirely inside a tree (and is a good bit Bigger on the Inside).

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