We Ask an Arborist How to Deal With Groot, Ents, and Other Famous Movie Trees
Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy may be one of cinema’s quirkiest superheroes, but he’s certainly not the first movie tree to put up a good fight. From the crotchety apple-hurlers in The Wizard of Oz to the child-snatching tree in Poltergeist, leafy antagonists have held their own throughout cinema history. But what’s the best way to deal with a hostile tree? We challenged plant expert Michael Hagen, curator of the native plant garden and the rock garden at New York Botanical Garden, to a hypothetical series of fights with iconic movie trees. To find out how to tame a Whomping Willow or conquer an Ent, read on.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Trees: The crotchety apple trees who yell at Dorothy for picking their fruit without permission, then hurl apples at her and Scarecrow.
Fighting Strategy: “I have to say, I don’t really blame those apple trees! I mean, along comes Dorothy, and she just pulls the apples off without asking, and then the Scarecrow proceeds to antagonize them, claims their apples have worms — so I think they’re getting a bad rap. But if you do have bad-tempered apple trees, the best thing to do is be nice to them. Most trees do tend to behave very badly if they’re mistreated, which usually means not watering them, not feeding them, digging around their roots — apple trees in particular. So, the best thing you can do for your apple tree is to keep it well watered, keep it fertilized, and try and keep any plants cleared away all the way to the drip line of the tree. You really want to keep that area clear. Then they won’t be grumpy.”
Tree: A gnarled tree that comes to life, grabs a child through his bedroom window and attempts to swallow him.
Fighting strategy: “Just looking at that tree in the movie, it did look like the main problem was that it had been very badly pruned. So I think it had every right to be in a bad temper. Any time you see an ugly tree, chances are someone has pruned it at the wrong time of year or not known what they’re doing. But if you’re ever in doubt as to whether your old tree is dangerous, you really do have to bring a licensed arborist in to look at it.”
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)