Trees in Pop Culture: Some Famous Examples

Trees are an important part of the human experience, so it should come as no surprise that there are numerous examples of important trees in literature, art, film and pop culture. You can go all the way back to ancient texts to learn of examples such as the Tree of Life, a concept found in many cultures and religions, but there are also plenty of modern examples of famous trees in pop culture.

Here are just a few of them!

  • The Whomping Willow: The Whomping Willow appears in the Harry Potter series of books and movies as a tree with a distinct personality—those who get too close may be “whomped” by its branches. Students would play a sort of game of chicken, attempting to get close enough to touch the trunk without getting whacked. The tree played an important part of several books in the series. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron crashed Ron’s dad’s flying Ford Anglia into the tree, getting “whomped” in the process. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s discovered the tree was planted to cover and protect a secret path to the “Shrieking Shack” in the nearby village Hogsmeade, which served as a place for werewolf Remus Lupin to go and transform on full moon days without being near students.
  • The Tree of Souls: The Tree of Souls is from James Cameron’s Avatar, and is a massive willow-like tree that is of extreme spiritual significance to the Na’vi people on the planet Pandora. It is said to provide a connection to the deity Eywa, while also being able to connect directly to the human nervous system. The general idea is that this connection allows the people of the Na’vi tribe to unite as a single unit.
  • Groot: So Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy technically isn’t a tree, per se, but rather a sentient tree-like species. While only capable of saying “I am Groot,” Groot has a very clear personality displayed across his film appearances. He is native to the planet X, and possesses human-level intellect.
  • Treebeard and the Ents: The ents from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and J.R.R. Tolkien’s entire Middle Earth universe are another form of sentient tree-like species. Many ents that grow dormant turn into trees themselves. Treebeard frequently positions himself as an advocate for trees and forests. When asked which side of the ongoing wars he is on, he famously remarks “I am on nobody’s side, because nobody is on my side.” Treebeard and the ents play a crucial role in overthrowing the evil wizard Saruman from the tower of Orthanc in Isengard, severing the connection between central Middle-Earth and Mordor in the southeast.

These are just a few examples of some of the most famous trees (and tree-like entities) in pop culture. Can you think of more? Why not share with us at admin@soiladvocates.ca or 289-221-0164.

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By |2019-05-14T09:43:38-04:00May 14th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , |

About the Author:

Dr. Leanne J Philip, BSc. (Hon.); MSc.; PhD. is the Managing Director & Chief Scientist of Soil Advocates Inc. She studied at the University of Guelph as an undergraduate (Plant Biology, Environmental Management and Urban Horticulture) and as a graduate student (Plant & Soil Interactions). She has a keen interest in soil sciences, which lead her to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for doctoral studies in soil carbon sequestration and movement within British Columbia’s clear-cut soils. Further work in soil sciences in Europe and Canada reinforced Dr. Philip’s belief that soil processes and mechanisms belowground drive aboveground aesthetics and plant interactions. While active in both research, mentorship and teaching, most recently Dr. Philip has been working in applied soil sciences in industry and community outreach. Dr. Philip is a native of southern Ontario and is a strong advocate for scientific literacy within her community and responsible environmental stewardship.

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