A Whomping Willow is 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 has been known to attack anyone who disturbs its branches.
Whomping Willows are a very valuable, very violent species of magical plant. As was eloquently put by Ron Weasley, it is the only tree in the world that will hit back. A deciduous plant, its limbs function as arms and any damage to them must be treated in much the same way.
The Whomping Willow was planted around the year 1971, the same year that Remus Lupin began attending Hogwarts, though it was presumably grown before to already be big enough to cover a trap door and a werewolf. It was placed to disguise the opening of a secret passage leading from the Hogwarts grounds to the Shrieking Shack in the village of Hogsmeade. This allowed Lupin to travel unnoticed to and from the Shrieking Shack, where he was able to undergo his transformation as a werewolf in privacy. There are two known ways to immobilise the particular Whomping Willow placed at Hogwarts: pressing a particular knot at the base of the tree or using the "Immobulus" spell. The purpose of the tree was kept a secret from everyone but Hogwarts staff and Lupin's three closest friends, James Potter, Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black. In time, Severus Snape also discovered its purpose.
1992-1993 school year
In 1992, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley accidentally crashed the Weasleys' Flying Ford Anglia into the tree, seriously damaging it. The tree violently defended itself and nearly killed both boys. The following day, 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.
1993-1994 school year
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.
Battle of Hogwarts
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.
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