Remember that day every year in elementary school where you got to go outside and sit around or even plant a tree while your teacher talked about how important they are to the environment? That was Arbor Day.
As early as the 16th century, people all around the world have set aside their own day to plant a bunch of trees and remind themselves how much we need them. In America, we celebrate on the fourth Friday of April, which — surprise! — is today, April 29!
Of course, the trees we encounter in fiction are much, much more interesting than their real-life counterparts. Some of them are wise mentors; others are magical, otherworldly spirits; and a pretty decent number of them just kinda want to kill all of us oxygen-breathing types. and yes, a lot of them talk. Like, most of them. The list is over-elm-ingly full of talking trees. (Sorry, not sorry.)
To celebrate Arbor Day this year, Team Revelist has rounded up some of the most iconic trees we've seen or read about in books, TV shows, movies, video games, and comics — starting with:
The trees from "The Happening"
"The Happening" keeps up with the long tradition of stories about trees attacking people (more on that later), but the ones Mark Wahlberg encounters do it in the dumbest way possible — although the movie is pretty fun to make jokes about, at least.
Evil trees from "Evil Dead"
Sure, "Evil Dead" is supposed to be a shocking tale of demonic possession and over-the-top horror, but let's all admit that the infamous "tree rape" scene takes things just a teeny bit too far — even in the comparatively milder scene from 2013, which switches up the sexual politics of the 1986 original in a really weird way. Either way, it's pretty iconic to horror fans.
The giant boobed tree from "The Last Unicorn"
For a long time my strongest memory of this film was fear and confusion over the thought of being smothered to death by giant bark breasts like Schmendrick almost did.
Ellcrys, "The Shannara Chronicles"
Telepathic, magical elf trees are always pretty rad, but poor Ellcrys tends to get completely overshadowed by all the other white trees in fantasy pop culture, of which there are many. Sorry, girl.
The Baobabs, "The Little Prince"
Sure, they're impressive and iconic, but they also messed up The Little Prince's home so bad he had to move, and then he died. Good going, BAOBABS.
The Money Tree, "Neopets"
Don't be fooled by its kind demeanor and its promise of free Neopoints — you're never going to pick up any good items there unless you're really trying to game the system.
The Truffula Trees, "The Lorax"
They're so cool looking, and they make excellent thneeds! Too bad their spokesman isn't very effective at his job and now they're all gone.
Those jerk trees from "Pajama Sam"
All Pajama Sam wants to do is defeat the Darkness under his bed, and these snobby, prejudiced trees keep messing with him. Plus, I don't think they're real customs agents.
The ancient fig tree from "Pan's Labyrinth"
It might be full of mud and roaches and evil life-sucking toads, but now that Ofelia's cleaned all that mess out it would probably make for a very nice summer home.
The Tree Of Life, "The Lion King"
It's impressive on the outside, but Rafiki's adorable drawings on the inside are what really make it stand out.
Tree Fort, "Adventure Time"
What's not to love about Jake and Finn's sweet crib? It's full of treasure and video games and bacon pancakes!
The tree from "Tuck Everlasting"
The fact that this tree has literal immortality powers and hasn't been cut down or turned into a bottled water plant is a miracle.
The White Tree of Gondor, "The Lord Of The Rings"
A metaphor for prosperity and decline among Men, and also a really cool thing to put on a shirt. Just ask Faramir! Not Boromir, though, he's super dead.
The Haunted Forest from "Snow White"
Whooooo wants childhood nightmares? Everybody? Perfect.
The World Tree from "American Gods"
Not only was the World tree at the end of Neil Gaiman's magiaoon inspired by an actual tree (that belongs to Tori Amos, weirdly!), but it's also appearing in a Bryan Fuller-directed Starz series soon, so get ready for that!
The Great Deku Tree, "Legend Of Zelda"
The only tree on this list who's ever worn a mustache, and boy does he rock it. Ganondorf must be so jealous.
The Tree of Heaven, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn"
The tree that grows in Francie's tenement isn't that special, but it's able to survive anyway, but that's kind of what makes it so great — and also as a pretty great metaphor for the poor community she lives in.
The "Swiss Family Robinson" Treehouse
The OG treehouse that every kid wished they could play in but instead had to settle for a plastic jungle gym.
The tree from "To Kill A Mockingbird"
It's full of presents from a nice Boo Radley!
The Giving Tree
Whether you think it's a beautiful metaphor for motherhood or a terrible metaphor for abusive relationships, you definitely have an opinion about the Giving Tree. It's nice to know that even though she's now a mere stump of her former self, she's still sparking very important discussion.
Cinderella's Dead Tree Mom, "Into The Woods"
She has really good design sense with those leaves.
The Whomping Willow, "Harry Potter"
You know you've hit the big time when parts of your school's campus can murder you.
The Forest of Cheem, "Doctor Who"
Jabe is a freakin' champion and the fact that she gets burned to a crisp instead of becoming a permanent companion of the Doctor is a total travesty.
Hexxus, "Fern Gully"
Okay, technically Hexxus is an evil (and confusingly sexy) oil spirit who starts the movie trapped in a tree and then ends the movie trapped in a different tree — but both trees are just incredible looking in terms of design. Plus the whole film is about how you shouldn't cut down trees, and implying that some of them are evil is a pretty decent deterrent.
The Keebler Elf Tree
Can any of these other trees give you cookies? Definitely not.
The Tree of Souls, "Avatar"
Say what you want about whether any of the characters from James Cameron's 2009 game-changer are really all that memorable, but that gorgeous tree the Na'Vi worship certainly is.
The Weirwood, "Game Of Thrones"
We don't even really know what's going on with the Weirwood — are they the old gods? Or are they just relics from an old religion that isn't gonna matter much when the Whitewalkers come blazing through the North? Either way, they're pretty dang fascinating once you actually read into their history.
The Wooden Spaceship from "Saga"
What do you do when you and your spouse are from warring alien races that both want to kill you and your daughter for being traitors, and you're trying to escape their clutches so you can live happily ever after? Steal a sentient wooden rocketship from the aptly-named Rocketship forest, duh.
The Kite-Eating Tree, "Peanuts"
Look at this adorable smug jerk. Charlie Brown doesn't deserve all the bad luck he gets, but it's hard not to side with this stinker sometimes. Then again I'm also a cat person, so maybe I'm biased towards cute lil' assholes.
Treebeard, "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy
No, Treebeard, for all intents and purposes you're a tree. But you're also one of the best trees, so that's pretty cool at least.
Groot, "Guardians Of The Galaxy"
Groot's been a comic book character for decades, but ever since his movie came out in 2014 he's become an international Jackson Five-dancing phenomenon. Even before then, though, he was pretty adorable.
Grandmother Willow, "Pocahontas"
Grandmother Willow is both the best grandmother and the best Willow to ever exist. She gives great advice! She's legitimately interested in hearing about people's dreams! Plus she's got the best side-eye in the tree biz.
The trees that mess Dorothy up in "Wizard Of Oz"
A bold choice, I know, but hear me out! Imagine you're an apple tree minding your own business and then some dumb girl comes along and picks a part of your body off of you. Yeah, you'd be pissed too! Sure, we're all supposed to be rooting for Dorothy to get home to Kansas, but it's hard not to feel a wave of righteous fury when the apple tree proudly and fiercely protects its own body autonomy. You go, tree.