The Trees

Haakon

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I'm looking for inspirational pictures for how we should depict the Trees.
In the Quenta (The Shaping of Middle-earth), cherry blossom (Telperion/Silpion) and golden rain (Laurelin).
White cherry blossom tree:

Golden rain tree:


The suroundings in these pictures could be better.

They are quite wide. I like that.
 
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MithLuin

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Hmmm, I understand why you are starting there. But the description in HoME 4 is really focusing on the blossoms - Telperion has white blossoms like the cherry, while Laurelin has yellow blossoms like the Golden Rain tree. But that doesn't mean that the two Trees resemble these trees in other ways.

For instance, Laurelin (in that same passage!) has leaves like the beech tree. (Not surprisingly, the mallorns of Lothlorien are meant to resemble Laurelin the Golden in a small way...) But anyway, I think we have the freedom to create some fantasy trees here, not rely strictly on identifying a real-life tree that would fit.

Telperion 'had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves.'

Laurelin 'bore leaves of a young green like the new-opened beech; their edges were of glittering gold. Flowers swung upon her branches in clusters of yellow flame, formed each to a glowing horn that spilled a golden rain upon the ground; and from the blossom of that tree there came forth warmth and a great light.'​


Tolkien was quite likely thinking of the Silver Linden tree when he described Telperion. (The Silver Maple and White Poplar are other, less likely, possibilities.)



I am fine with using a Silver Linden as our 'base' tree, and then adding a bunch of cherry blossoms to it, and then the special effects that make it drip glowing silver dew from every leaf. Money was no object in this project, right? The advantage here is that we can use a variety of different real-life silver lime trees for the many progeny of Telperion that will show up later in the story.


I'm a little more adrift to identify the base tree for Laurelin. I mean, yes, Tolkien uses a beech to describe her, but at the same time, it's specifically only referring to the color of the leaves, and it's true that sunlight shining through a newly-opened beech leaf is a bright 'young' green color. So maybe a European beech with flowers like the goldenrain tree? Maybe?





The passage in 'The Shaping of Middle Earth' resembles the published Silmarillion (quoted above), but with a few more details:

Silpion: "Dark green leaves had the one, that beneath were as silver shining, and he bore white blossoms like the cherry, from which a dew of silver light was ever falling, and earth was dappled with the dark and dancing shadows of his leaves amid the pools of gleaming radiance."

Laurelin: "Leaves of young green like the new-opened beech the other bore; their edges were of glittering gold. Yellow flowers swung upon her boughs like the hanging blossoms of the merry trees Men now call Golden-rain; and from those flowers there came forth warmth and a great light."

Acacias have the right flowers but the wrong leaves for Laurelin:
 
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Haakon

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If I'm not entirely mistaken, mallorn look somewhat like birches. So we could use birches as well when conceptualizing Laurelin.
Birch tree (fall):
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
"Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold...."

Filming Laurelin is going to be interesting...it will only be available in early spring!
Though it is easy enough to make a completely verisimilitudinous (stealing Prof. Olsen's $5 word here) tree from scratch and put it up in a studio or on a location.
 

MithLuin

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While I understand that that is how things are done, part of me cringes terribly at the thought of the Two Trees being fake. I'm sure that's a more reasonable approach than adding a zillion layers of special effects to a living tree, but, even so......
 

Haakon

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Well, I think that we are going to have to construct them to some degree. But they should be recognisable as actual trees, if you see what I mean. The more real elements we put into them, the better.
 

MithLuin

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The hosts missed this thread, unfortunately, but did discuss it. Corey Olsen brought up the passage about the cherry blossoms and golden rain blossoms, so that is in, and took pains to point out that the trees are not made of metal (they don't have shiny metallic gold and silver 'bark' for instance), and that they are not 'twins' - they don't look just alike to each other, but are two rather distinct types of trees.

I did not manage to get mentions of beech, linden, birches or any other tree into the podcast, but did mention the gilding on the edge of Laurelin's leaves.
 

Haakon

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The hosts missed this thread, unfortunately, but did discuss it. Corey Olsen brought up the passage about the cherry blossoms and golden rain blossoms, so that is in, and took pains to point out that the trees are not made of metal (they don't have shiny metallic gold and silver 'bark' for instance), and that they are not 'twins' - they don't look just alike to each other, but are two rather distinct types of trees.

I did not manage to get mentions of beech, linden, birches or any other tree into the podcast, but did mention the gilding on the edge of Laurelin's leaves.
Well basically it's a go ahead here as well :)
 

MithLuin

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Haha, yes! Though I am now confused by something:

The 'goldenrain tree' is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koelreuteria_paniculata
Not to be confused with the 'golden shower tree': https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassia_fistula
Or the 'golden chain' tree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laburnum

I bring this up, because Corey Olsen identified the golden rain tree as the Laburnum, which is that last one. The Laburnum is the one that is native to Europe, which makes it a much better candidate than the Asian ones. It would be unlike Tolkien to confuse the names of trees, so could this be a handwriting issue? I'd have to go back and see if this passage is from a typescript or not. He of course mentioned laburnums in The Hobbit (by that name).
 

MithLuin

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They are quite lovely and visually striking, so I am fine with using Laburnum in our design for Laurelin. It's poisonous, but no one was going to *eat* it, and we can leave off the less-sightly treepods.







 
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MithLuin

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Haha, I do rather like the idea of the sap of the Golden Tree giving Ungoliant a bellyache (one of the symptoms of ingesting laburnum). It's not deadly enough to kill most critters, so a huge spider probably wouldn't be seriously harmed, but....well, it's not quite poetic justice, but it's something.
 

MithLuin

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I do think it important that the Two Trees be in a perpetual season - Laurelin, the younger one, has new green leaves, which will not darken or change colors in the fall or fall off or any of that, so it is always in 'early spring.' Telperion has both the white blossoms of the cherry, *and* the full grown 'mature' leaves of dark green with pale green undersides that show up when a breeze strikes it, so it is both spring and summer at once (but also never winter).

Thoughts?
 

Haakon

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Ok so just to be clear: they're not going through seasons all the time, very fast?
 

MithLuin

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My impression would be that they do not go through seasons at all. That's it's...just the waxing and waning of the light with them, and that the blossoms don't fall off and turn into seed pods, and the leaves don't turn brown and fall, and...none of that happens.

With the cherry (like most spring-flowering trees), you get the flowers before there are any leaves. So, the cherries are in bloom here right now, and they are quite striking and lovely, a tree full of pinkish white blooms. But...no leaves.



The description of Telperion references both leaves and blossoms, and suggests that they are present at the same time (though that is not the only way to read that).

Laurelin will have 'new' leaves, but they will never darken to 'mature' leaves. Laurelin will have leaves that look like sunlight shining through a beech leaf in spring.

Always this:
 

Ekoile

New Member
So, another question to consider is how big do the Trees get? Or more specifically, what shape do the Trees have at their oldest? Different types of trees, as they get older, have different shapes, different silhouettes.

I am assuming the Trees continue to grow after they are first planted.

I’ll admit that the first mental image I had of the Trees were both of them as huge towers with the leaves, flowers, and branches way overhead.

Saying that, I think there is something very appealing about having at least one Tree closer to the ground. It would be more interesting visually; It would also easily differentiate each tree as a different species, not just different colors on the same type of tree. Telperion would be perfect for that. Telperion’s light is the light that will become the moon, it makes some sense that it would be closer to the ground.

First Telperion: If the base tree for Telperion is a Silver Linden tree, that means a specific shape. Linden trees, as far as I can tell, seem to become rounded as they age. The branches seem to stay closer to the ground, while the trunk becomes wider. As the tree becomes older, it does become taller, but also wider; as far as I can tell, Linden trees seem to grow upward and outward evenly, sorta. Not that Telperion has to follow that exactly, but looking at the general shape. Speaking of Telperion’s shape, definitely not spherical.
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This is one of the few Linden trees I found, along with the one at the top, who’s lowest branches are not closer to the trunk but farthest away. As a tree like this grows, its trunk would become especially wide.
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This is the oldest Linden Tree I could find a picture of. Note the round shape atop a wide yet short trunk.
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This is technically a Cypress tree, but I’m mostly looking at the scale (also somewhat the shape, though I think Telperion would be more evenly rounded, plus the trunk would probably still be visible). As I said, I am assuming the Trees continued to grow after they first bloom.
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Now, Laurelin: The tree who’s light will become the Sun. If Telperion becomes the moon and is closer to the ground, it would make sense for Laurelin to be farther away, higher up. I think a tree that grows upward much more than any other direction would be appropriate. There is a certain symmetry in Laurelin being a technically taller tree, but no less or more grand than Telperion. I’ll admit I have no idea about the shape of its canopy.

Haakon mentioned that Laurelin is reminiscent of birch trees. I am definitely a fan of birch-type bark and coloration. However, MithLuin mentioned that we can create something new. I’ll admit I like the height, but especially the trunk girth of Sequoia Redwood trees, but I don’t like anything else about them for Laurelin. Mostly, I like the scale they offer as a visual aid.
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Again, I’m looking at scale especially. I was unable to find a satisfactorily comparable image of a birch.

I just kept thinking about “how will the Trees look when Ungoliant eats their light?” With the elves there, scale becomes a legitimate question. It’s also a question of “how grand were the Trees at their peak?” I think the Trees by their end should be appropriately incomparable in size. (read: really big.)
 

MithLuin

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I do like the idea of showing 'young' Trees in Season 1, and then mature Trees in Season 2. It helps with our passage of time issues.

I also like the idea of having Telperion and Laurelin not be a 'matched set', two similar trees just with different coloring. Having 2 distinct types of trees seems more appealing to me. And so I am fine with Telperion being closer to the ground, spreading, while Laurelin is more tall and straight/narrow.

I should note that Tolkien never compares Laurelin to a birch, to my knowledge. I think birch bark is pretty, too, but I just want us to remember what we are inventing and what was already there.

I think that Redwoods might be too tall and too...belonging in a coniferous forest. They might seem out of place in Valinor, and are seldom found as stand-alone trees. Maybe I can suggest the elm? It has a tall/vertical shape to it that should contrast nicely with the linden, but not be TOO mismatched. Also, elm leaves have similar shapes to beech leaves, so we wouldn't have to rely too heavily on special effects replacing every leaf (just gilding over the existing leaves and making them more transparent).



Alternately, we could just use a beech tree. The American beech trees have a smooth silver bark that is quite lovely.


If we're trying to stick with European trees (for...reasons), then we should naturally consider the European beech:
 
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