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Wise Tree

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"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 or, at the least, experience and knowledge. 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.

Oftentimes, these trees will have faces in their trunks, giving them a direct means of talking with others.

May sometimes overlap with The Mentor, Genius Loci or World Tree. Get a lot of these growing together, and you might get an Intelligent Forest. Related to The Owl-Knowing One. A type of Nature Spirit and Plant Person. This often overlaps with Treants, which are often depicted as extremely old and wise beings.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon: Jureimon (Cherrymon) is this in Digimon Data Squad 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.
  • Inuyasha: To try and understand Inuyasha's recently manifested Superpowered Evil Side, Sesshoumaru visits an old youkai that had served his father: a two-thousand-year-old magnolia tree-spirit. Bokusenou not only guesses what Sesshoumaru has come to see him about, but was expecting it.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: 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.

    Card Games 
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • The Great Power of Chninkel: J'on the chosen one travels the ocean to visit a wise old figure so he can impart his wisdom about the history of the world to him. It turns out that the figure is in fact a giant tree which has stood there for eons. The only way to talk to it is by resting inside one of its flowers so it can establish a telepathic link.
  • Swamp Thing: The Parliament of Trees were once ambulatory plant/human syntheses, like Swamp Thing. They have since relinquished their humanity and mobility and reside in the Green, a mythic reality embodying the collective life of all plants. They, singly and as a group, either support, argue with, advise, or oppose Swamp Thing, depending on how well they believe he is fulfilling his role as defender of the Green.

    Comic Strips 

    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. Cinderella's dead mother's spirit lives in the tree and grants her wishes.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU: Brokenstar is the Anthropomorphic Personification of SkyClan's tree in fourtrees and thus of the pain caused by SkyClan's exile. While initially a villain, he ends up transforming into a benevolent guardian tree of SkyClan at the end of Firestar's Quietus.
  • Dæmorphing takes a concept which comes up once in Animorphs canon — that Elfangor has a psychic Guide Tree that can't quite speak or comprehend events like a person can, but can hear and understand his feelings — and develops it into the Andalite equivalent of dæmons, much as in His Dark Materials bears have armor.
  • First Flight: A fully matured Kerm tree is fully sapient, even with memories. A Keeper assigned to each Kerm tree communes with their tree via a biochemical connection.
  • The Flower's Dream:
    • Subverted by the trees within the flower's dream. They are magical talking trees in the traditional fairytale manner, but like most of the other dream-dwellers they tried to deal with a narrowly averted Dream Apocalypse by pretending that it never happened.
    • Played straight with the ancient tree out in the flower's grove, which is old and knowledgeable in the ways of dreaming and decided to teach the flower how to live permanently within its own dream.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pocahontas: Grandmother Willow is a wise tree, who acts as a spiritual guide to Pocahontas throughout the film.
  • The Simpsons Movie: The "epiphatrees", possibly real and possibly not trees that Homer sees in a vision and that help realize that he needs to reconcile with his family... by beating the tar out of him every time he gives them a wrong answer.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: The Tree of Souls. By "plugging into" it, the Na'vi could hear the voices of their ancestors.
  • Super Xuxa contra Baixo Astral has a variant. The Tree of Knowledge imparts knowledge to new generations via books that fall off its branches. However, the tree itself isn't the one that gives advice to Xuxa, but its guardian, Vovó Cascadura.

  • Animorphs mentions the Andalites have guide trees called Garibah which have some limited telepathy, but we don't see much of them, since the only glimpse of the Andalite Homeworld we get is the one reconstructed from Elfangor's memories.
  • Down Town is about a young boy's attempt to save an ancient Wise Tree from forces that seek to destroy her.
  • Dream of the Rood: The tree Christ's cross was made from.
  • Ender's Game: The father trees of the Pequeninos turn out to be this in the sequel novels, 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 Giving Tree was probably meant as an example of this, but many readers (and the Sassy Gay Friend) would disagree.
  • Inheritance Cycle: The Menoa Tree has the soul of the elf Linnëa preserved in it. She rarely talks, though she did communicate with Eragon and Saphira when the latter threatened her with fire.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The weirwoods are believed by the Northmen and the Wildlings to be the physical representations of their gods, although it's 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. Later it is revealed that weirwoods store the souls of dead greenseers, and at least one living greenseer can communicate with people through the trees. Which is much closer to playing the trope straight.
  • Star Wars Legends: Baffor trees are sapient when 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.
  • In Septimus Heap, Septimus's grandfather Benjamin Heap was a shapeshifter, and when he felt he was old enough, he went into the woods and became a tree. He can still speak and use his branches like limbs, and he saves Septimus and Beetle from wolverines in book 2.
  • In Sword of the Rightful King, Merlinnus consults a sacred oak grove for advice. The trees don't speak outright, but Merlinnus is able to interpret their rustling as a response.
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy:
    • The Ellcrys 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.
  • 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.
  • Young Wizards: 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Raven: The Wisdom Tree in the Demon Square challenge, if you count knowing miscellaneous facts as being wise. The point of the challenge it appears in is for the contestants to determine whether a statement the Wisdom Tree says is either true or false via going on either the white path or the black (series 2-6)/red path (series 7-10) respectively. If they guess right, they get to move forward one square until reaching the end of the path and allowed to gain a ring or two but if they get two questions in a row wrong, they lose.
  • Seijuu Sentai Gingaman has Wisdom Tree Moak, who serves as the heroes' mentor and adviser, kinda like a plant version of Zordon from Power Rangers.
  • Arbol from the short-running Mexican children's show Tele Chobis is this

    Myths & Religion 
  • 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.
  • In Buddhist mythology, the Bodhi Tree is where the Buddha gained enlightenment.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Eberron's NPC with the highest given level (level 20 druid) is a talking tree — not a treant, but an animated tree.
    • Treants are intelligent, mobile tree monsters that tend to be good-aligned and have high wisdom scores. However this doesn't always make them friendly since they've often seen the damage that humanoid beings do to the forest with logging, hunting, and unrestrained use of fire.
  • The One Ring: The Ents of Middle-earth will instruct trusted adventurers in the lore of nature and history. Each lesson takes multiple downtime sessions, as the trees are as long-winded as they are long-lived.

    Video Games 
  • Breath of Fire:
    • Breath of Fire II: There's one of these, though it's suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia, and getting the information you need from him requires 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.
  • Conquests of the Longbow: The Green Man, a forest spirit who appears as an ancient, large oak, will help Robin if he will provide the answers to his riddles.
  • Dark Cloud:
    • Treant is a talking tree who gives Toan a sword to defeat the Killer Snake guarding the way in a local dungeon.
    • Jurak in both games. Also, Father Yggdra in White Knight Chronicles II.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: The Grand Oak is a tree possessed by a demon from a different plane, which talks in couplets. Being Dragon Age you can beat it up instead. It's definitely more of the neutral variety though it will trade you for a neat magical staff.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The Argonians worship the Hist, an ancientnote  and possibly omniscient spore-reproducing trees. The can communicate with each other via deep, interconnected root systems and can communicate with the Argonians via visions transmitted in their sap, which the Argonians drink to learn and grow. Through an unknown means, they are able to see into the future. Sensing the upcoming Oblivion Crisis and the trials that would follow, they recalled most of the Argonians in Tamriel to the Black Marsh to combat these threats and, through their sap, changed the Argonians physically to better prepare them as weapons of war. Following the Red Year destruction of much of Morrowind, homeland of the Dunmer who kept many Argonians as slaves for countless generations, the Argonians invaded and took over the parts that remained habitable. In the 4th Era, due to their increased strength, the leadership of the Hist, and the valuable ebony deposits in Morrowind, the Argonians are one of only two forces of Tamriel believed to be capable of defeating an invasion by the Aldmeri Dominion. (The other being Hammerfell.)
    • Y'ffre, patron deity of the Bosmer (Wood Elves) and God of the Forest, is typically depicted taking the form of a large, bearded tree.
  • In Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, a giant tree in the Alive Forest blocks the way to the town of Windia. When Benjamin enters the forest with Kaeli, she is able to talk to the tree. It promises to grant them passage if they can cleanse it of monsters. Well, they can, and the tree literally gets up and carries them to the other side of the forest. After that, it's not seen again.
  • Kael in Gobliins 2: The Prince Buffoon.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Subverted. 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. 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!" 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...
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: Some maps in 3 and 4 have a Tree of Knowledge which will grant each visiting hero a one-time level-up, either in exchange for some gems/gold or just out of boredom.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: The talking tree in the swamp, who dispenses advice at the cost of a gold coin. Connor lampshades this by asking why a tree would need money.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: Nyarlim and Akara are part of a group of twelve such trees which are all the offspring of the original World Tree of the setting.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Great Deku Tree from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild, is an immensely ancient and wise talking tree who serves as the guardian of the Kokiri/Koroks — fairy-children and their Plant Person descendants, respectively — and of the Master Sword in BotW, and typically as a guide and mentor figure to Link and a source of wisdom and knowledge. The tree in Ocarina is also the game's very first dungeon, where Link has to break a curse that was inflicted on it, but this effort proves to be in vain after the fact: the tree dies, and is replaced by the youthful Deku Sprout; the trees in later games are implied to be the Sprout, having long since grown to his own elder age.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: The Maku Trees. The Ages Maku Tree hilariously subverts this by becoming a Clingy Jealous Girl for Link after he goes back in time to rescue her younger sprout self from Veran's forces.
    • Implied to a more downplayed extent with the Koroks in The Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild, where the larger and presumably older individuals such as Hestu have more tree-like growths on their bodies.
  • NieR has the Divine Tree at the heart of the Forest of Myths, which the locals don't really interact with save for praying to it. Unfortunately it's not as wise as it used to be — it's supposed to be a repository for humanity's memories, but after 1,300 years it's starting to degrade. Nier ends up killing it in another one of his Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments that contribute to the extinction of mankind.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: The Tree of Wisdom gives the player tips, cheat codes that have very little effect on gameplay, and plant puns. It doesn't have a face, though.
  • Quest for Glory I: The Dryad protects the forest and gives the hero advise on how to make a dispel potion.
  • RuneScape has spirit trees, which are capable of speech, can transport others between spirit trees and have protective properties.
  • Shining Wisdom: There are a series of "Trents" that help Mars through the woods and save the princes/swan.
  • Paper Mario 64 has Wise Wisterwood of Flower Fields. You can go to the door either to go back to Toad Town or to get a hint as to what you should be doing next.
  • Tomba! has the Tree of Knowledge, who doesn't communicate with Tomba directly, requiring a parrot to translate for him. He doesn't dispense as much knowledge as he claims to have, and what little he does is incredibly generic and/or circumstantial, but he can provide a bonus item if Tomba completes his side-quest.
  • The Trader of Stories has the Big Old Tree That Dreams, although it's not exactly communicative. The elders of the Dancing Trees in Chapter 1 of the prequel aren't nearly as wise as they think they are, being the Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering.
  • WildStar: The Elderoot Tree isn't 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.
  • Yoku's Island Express has Dipperloaf, a paternal, stump-like entity who lives in the central western portion of the island.

    Web Original 
  • UniCreatures: The Dendros line of creatures are enormous, sentient trees, the final stage being described as a "repository of knowledge and wisdom".

    Western Animation 
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: One of these grows on the farm in "The Magic Tree of Nowhere". It grants wishes and gives Courage wise advice, but Eustace is jealous of it. Courage is forced to stop defending it to help Muriel, and it's cut down. It planned this however, and the cure for Muriel's sickness was in its branches.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1983): The cartoon has the Forest of Know Trees — i.e., Trees that Knew Everything.
  • Family Guy: Peter Griffin speaks to a forest full of talking trees when pretending to be Native American. Unfortunately, talkative though they are, they're a subversion of the trope. They provide no insight whatsoever.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): An episode has Skytree, the oldest living being on the planet Eternia, whom He-Man is 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.
  • Teen Titans Go!: One episode features one of these. Robin chopped it almost immediately, however it lived on as a twig. Its ultimate fate was to become a toilet plunger.


Video Example(s):


Grandmother Willow

Grandmother Willow, a sentient willow tree acts as Pocahontas' mentor in the film, as well as her surrogate maternal figure.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / WiseTree

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