A Whomping Willow was located on grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was planted in 1971 to disguise the opening of a secret passage leading from the Hogwarts grounds to the Shrieking Shack, a building located in the village of Hogsmeade. A very violent plant, it was known to attack anyone who disturbed its branches.
Whomping Willows were a very valuable, very violent species of magical plant. As was eloquently put by Ron Weasley, it was the only tree in the world that will hit back. A deciduous plant, its limbs functioned as arms and any damage to them was treated in much the same way.
The tree can be frozen by pushing a knot on its base. During the Marauders time at Hogwarts, a transformed Peter Pettigrew, whose Animagus form was a rat, would slip in and push the knot. Crookshanks also performed this duty during Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger's third year at Hogwarts. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Ron simply used a Levitation Charm to levitate a fallen twig into the knot which worked as well.
- "I told you, months ago, that the Whomping Willow was planted the year I came to Hogwarts. The truth is that it was planted because I came to Hogwarts."
- —How the Willow came to be at Hogwarts[src]
The Whomping Willow was a very valuable, very violent tree planted alone in the middle of the school grounds. It was planted the same year that Remus Lupin arrived at Hogwarts (c. 1971) to disguise the opening to a secret passage from Hogwarts to the Shrieking Shack. Lupin would go through a hole in the Willow’s roots every month and through a tunnel to transform into a werewolf in the Shack where he couldn’t hurt anyone. The Willow was so dangerous that it kept other people from entering the passage and encountering the werewolf.
Sirius Black told Slytherin classmate Severus Snape how to stop the tree from whomping him, and somehow convinced him to do it on the night of a full moon. Snape was curious and it almost got him killed by Lupin transformed into a "fully-grown werewolf" at the end of the tunnel. James Potter managed to pull him out in time to save his life.
The Whomping Willow was injured when Harry Potter and Ron Weasley crashed Mr Weasley's flying Ford Anglia into it at the beginning of their second year. The following day, the Herbology Professor Pomona Sprout had to bandage some of the tree's limbs to try and repair the damage, possibly assisted (or hindered) by then-Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor Gilderoy Lockhart.
In 1994, Sirius Black, in his animagus form of a large black dog, dragged Ron Weasley into the secret passage beneath the Willow leading to Hogsmeade's Shrieking Shack. They were quickly followed by Harry and Hermione, then later by Lupin and Snape.
In 1998, Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneaked through the passage under the Willow to the Shrieking Shack during the Battle of Hogwarts. There, they witnessed Snape's murder by Lord Voldemort and his serpent, Nagini.
The Whomping Willow's roots were used to conceal a room used by the remnants of Dumbledore's Army to fight the Ministry in the an alternate timeline created when Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy made a second trip back in time via a Time-Turner to try to repair the damage they had caused on their first time travel escapade.
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Whomping Willow is located in the Training Grounds, whereas in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the tree is on a hill, far from the castle.
- In the Chamber of Secrets video game (especially the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube versions), the Whomping Willow is located within the boundaries of the Forbidden Forest. This is its largest incarnation to date as it appears to be nearly a hundred feet tall (as in the GBC and console versions, the player has to literally traverse down the tree itself). It is normally the first boss in the game, save for the PC version where it only acts as a hostile environmental element and in the GBA version where the tree doesn't act at all and is only part of the scenery. Its appearance however, varies:
- For the console versions where it is the largest to date, it has a single eye with slanted mouth as its face has its non-existent right-side "buried" into the ground with the roots, as well as a pair of hidden giant treewood-hands used to attack Harry with (its right hand lifting the Ford Anglia and attempting to smash Harry with it, and its left being used to throw boulders) that only reveal themselves during the boss battle. Harry must cast the Knock-Back Jinx at its palms' open crevices when they reveal themselves in order to cause its knot-branch (holding Ron captive) to swing around, allowing Harry to jinx its eye and cause damage. The Xbox/Gamecube version of the arena is slightly larger than in the PS2 version, and has more fire-coloured lighting as opposed to a blueish tone in the scenery.
- The PS1 version however, is not as big, and its branches resemble hands with two-to-three fingers. It only instead has a mouth which is its weakpoint. The branches also will attempt to slap Harry as opposed to also using the prior smashing attacks.
- The PC version has its size fixed between the sizes of the PS1 and other console versions, and instead has it act as a hostile element. Just like the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube versions however, there is a knot-branch where Ron is held captive by the tree prior. Its "weakpoint" is instead a small spiral which Harry must cast Flipendo on, and the branch holding Ron has a small platform on it where he stands.
- The GBA version of the tree is akin to the one in the films, only it acts as a part of the scenery and there is no interaction with it whatsoever, aside from having the car crash into it.
- The Whomping Willow inspired a wizard rock band called The Whomping Willows. Often the band speaks as though it were the Whomping Willow. In one song, the Whomping Willow wasn't allowed to be sorted so it created a new house, The House of Awesome.
- The tree also appeared on the Marauder's Map that was included in the Harry Potter 5 video game box. It was drawn with the letters WHOMPING WILLOW, instead of with lines. The tree's appearance on the map is quite strange, because the tree didn't appear in the game itself.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Remus Lupin immobilises the Whomping Willow. However, in the book, someone has to touch the knot in the tree.
- In the films, the Whomping Willow is similar to what is known in reality as a knotted willow. Pottermore, however, depicts a more traditional willow with low hanging branches and green curtains of leaves.
- The Whomping Willow and its attack on Harry and Ron may have been inspired by a similar tree and scene in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In that novel's first part, The Fellowship of the Ring, the hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are attacked by a sentient tree called Old Man Willow, who objects to their intrusion into his forest.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Game box only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s))
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: The Wand Collection (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6 (Gilderoy Lockhart)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10 (The Marauder's Map)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 9 (Grim Defeat)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 17 (Cat, Rat and Dog)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 19 (The Servant of Lord Voldemort)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32 (The Elder Wand)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Three, Scene Five