Walking Tree Species in Fillimet | World Anvil

Walking Tree

The Migratory Trees of Jannada

You expect me to believe all this? Next you're going to tell me about the people of Jannada and how they live in giant walking trees. I've heard that story, too, and I don't believe a word of that, either.
— skeptic neighbor
  The famed migratory trees of Jannada provide a home for many nomadic tribes, and play a central role in the lives and cultures of its people.

Basic Information


Walking trees are the largest known species of trees in Fillimet by both height and width, making their migratory behaviors and adaptations particularly impressive.  

Upper Canopy

The main trunk of the tree extends straight to a height in excess of 200 ft, but rather than unbalancing the tree this height serves as a ballast. The top two thirds of the walking trees of Jannada contain a thick net of weaving leaf-covered vine-like branches which grow out and down while remaining fairly close to the trunk.   These serve to centralize the weight of the tree, and provide a safe haven for the symbiotic Bigfoot Squirrel who make their homes within the migratory trees. The main trunk is also highly flexible, swaying with the wind or in response to ground tremors, helping the tree remain upright despite environmental conditions.  

Lower Canopy

The lower canopy of the tree consists of a thick network of wide, surprisingly strong branches extending outwards and upwards from the trunk. In a fully mature tree these branches could extend a radius of 300 ft or larger. The branching lower canopy is where the core of the tree resides, as well as its center of balance. Many walking trees are also home to Jannadan cities, built to take advantage of the strength and migratory patterns of the wondrous trees. Here the branches serve as roadways from building to building, with additional structure and navigation provided by ropes constructed from weaving together portions of the tree's aerial root system.  


Below the thick lower canopy each walking tree has grown a twisting jungle of prop and aerial roots. Prop roots help support the canopy, growing downward from the branches and twisting around each other to form thick yet flexible secondary root columns. Aerial roots reach from the branches deep within the soil below, efficiently absorbing nutrients until the tree's migration pulls them from the soil. Aerial roots are longer and more agile than the prop or main root systems, allowing them to dart forward along the tree's path to set root again. At average speed an aerial root will require up to three days to locate a suitable location and an additional day to plant itself, allowing more than two weeks to gather nutrients before being uprooted again.  

Root System

The root system of the walking tree rivals the lower canopy in diameter, radiating outward from the trunk in wide serpentine primary support roots. The tree has evolved to rely upon thicker roots in lesser quantities for the extra support but also to reduce the opportunities of the primary support roots with the aerial roots draped from the lower canopy. Towards the end each primary root splits into multiple secondary roots which serve to propel the tree along its path. Each secondary root will reach forward along the path, digging into the ground before contracting. The progress is slow and imperceptible to the untrained observer, but measurements have shown the trees are always moving.   The bark beneath the walking tree is thick and tough, yet carefully jointed to allow the flexibility required for its journey. The Jannadan people have studied this arrangement of teinforced layers and adapted it for use in their own armor. The bark beneath the primary roots is worn smooth from constant friction. The secondary roots bear rough patterns to improve grip, the bark reinforced with metals drawn from the soil by the aerial roots. Unlike the rest of the tree, walking trees are constantly growing new root bark.

Genetics and Reproduction

The migrating trees rely upon bigfoot squirrels to pollinate and propagate. The trees actually produce two kinds of seeds, depending upon the season.  

Spring and Summer

During the spring and summer walking trees grow luscious fruits among the inner branches of its canopies. These serve to augment the diets of pregnant Bigfoot Squirrels, and later serve as sustenance for nursing mothers and their juvenile offspring as they keep close to the main trunk of the tree until the young have developed sufficient grip for navigating the outer branches. The seeds of these fruits reside within a thin but tough outer coating which is broken down by digestive juices. The squirrels' dropping assist in fertilizing the seeds.  

Autumn and Winter

During the autumn and winter months the migrating trees instead produce nuts along the outer branches of the canopy. These serve to sustain the tree's squirrel population during the lean seasons when there are fewer bugs to consume, and to attract squirrels in cases where the tree has not yet developed its own colony. The quantity of nuts produced helps the tree regulate the size of its squirrel population to maintain ideal levels for its needs.   Only the nuts of well established walking trees produce viable seeds. Among younger walking trees the nuts serve only to attract and maintain the Bigfoot Squirrel colony.

Growth Rate & Stages

Walking trees are actually stationary for the majority of their first decade. They do have the capability to migrate to better growing conditions if their original growth site is unsatisfactory, but will otherwise conserve energy until they reach sufficient size to sustain a squirrel colony.   Once the tree begins to migrate it will remain in constant motion until it approaches the end of its lifespan, at which point it will finally permanently root. From this point on the tree will gradually produce less fruits and nuts each year until its death.

Additional Information

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

Bigfoot Squirrels

The trees rely upon Bigfoot Squirrels to patrol the canopies and keep them safe from pests and predators. Bigfoot squirrels feed on the insects and occasional bird which attempt to build their homes within the great trees.   In return the trees provide for the squirrels' every need. Drinking water collects within the leaves, while the trees' fruits and nuts feed the juveniles, elderly, and sick. The seeds pass through the squirrels' digestive tracts, their droppings fertilizing the seeds which manage to fall to ground and root.  


The Jannadan people make their homes among the lower canopy of the trees. In addition to enjoying the benefits the trees provide for the squirrels they also consume the squirrels themselves, as well as any wildlife they catch beneath the canopy. The little metal used in their daily lives is harvested from the trees via phytomining. Entire villages are built within the treetops, constructed of still-living wood through Agrokinesis.   In exchange the people of Jannada maintain the health of their trees, using Agrokinesis to encourage healthy growth and Biomicrokinesis to fight any bacterial infections.
2,000 to 3,500 years
Average Height
250 - 350 ft
Average Diameter
200 - 300 ft
Average Trunk Diameter
30 - 50 ft
Geographic Distribution
Related Ethnicities

Cover image: Nature Forest Trees by jplenio


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Mar 26, 2021 16:35 by C. B. Ash

I'm suddenly hearing a ballad with the chorus... "... these roots are made for walkin'! ..." :D   Seriously, this is AWESOME!   I'm wondering... what migratory birds call these trees home?   And is the migration of the trees following underground rivers or flowing water tables?   Really, neat! I like it!

Mar 26, 2021 16:40 by Morgan Biscup

Regarding the birds - none. The squirrels tend to eat any that try to roost within the trees.   Regarding their migration paths, I will admit that I'm not entirely sure yet. I think I will have them using the magical fields for navigation (like our migratory birds use the magnetic fields of earth in part) but I have not mapped out Jannada itself well enough to answer further yet. This was one of the major species that makes the plane what it is, though, so getting closer.

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Mar 26, 2021 19:58 by Dani

Oh my goodness! This thing sounds so cool! And HUGE. And I'm so eager to know more! What kind of migratory pattern and range do they have? Are they found anywhere on the Jannada plane or somewhere specific/under specific conditions? I absolutely love what its structure allows its inhabitants to become, too--you've created defensive squirrel brigades and a migrant treepeople who can take their entire city with them -- wherever the roots may roam. :D <3

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Mar 26, 2021 20:46 by Morgan Biscup

Jannada is going to be so much fun to refine and explore. It's going to be an ecologist's dream, if I manage to follow the basic ideas in my head.   I think it needs an Emy picture.

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Mar 26, 2021 23:41

Migrating tree cities is such an interesting concept! It must be quite the sight to behold. Poor squirrels that leave near the towns though :p Are the trees with town devoid of squirrels over time or do new ones arrive very often?   In all was a nice article!

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Mar 27, 2021 00:08 by Morgan Biscup

The Jannadan are big on sustainability, so they would never completely deplete the squirrel population, even if they could. (People are unlikely to travel to the tops of these trees, since they are so huge and only the lower third is reasonable to navigate). The trees need the squirrels, too, so it would be hurting their homes.   Thank you!

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Mar 27, 2021 04:03

I really like that you've considered how to support and stabilize such a massive tree, and have even considered its center of gravity. And I love how long-lived they are. Walking history. There are lots of great details in here.   I wonder if the Jannada tribes are able to trade and interact with each other and how that looks. Can they traverse the tree limbs from time to time to visit with other tribes? Do they have a system (perhaps pulleys?) to get to the ground if needed or desired? I assume these trees are rather slow moving. Can the people influence the trees' routes at all, perhaps to interact with other tribes? Or are they completely at the mercy of the trees' migratory patterns?

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Mar 27, 2021 04:23 by Morgan Biscup

These are all great questions!   Jannada is one of my side planes, so I have not put a lot of work yet into ironing out the full details of how it operates, just a general idea of its people and how they interact with nature. I would imagine the migratory tribes can indeed trade with other tribes in passing trees. The trees are very slow, so they'd still have time to return to their own trees.   Regarding migration patterns, the thought of being able to influence the path is quite interesting and I will have to think on that. I don't think the people would want to alter it *too* much, as they are very much about being in tune with nature, but they'd probably want to make some adjustments sometimes in favor of trade and community.

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Mar 27, 2021 11:49 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I love the sound of these, and their relationship with the squirrels. :D <3 It's really cool that they are so massive that people can live in their branches! :O

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Mar 28, 2021 21:20 by E. Christopher Clark

This is excellent! I love the symbiosis between them and the bigfoot squirrels.

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Mar 29, 2021 12:18 by TC

Oh wow these sound awesome as hell, I love them!! I'm really curious to see how these trees tie into Jannadan culture (and how their culture looks like from living on moving trees). Great work!!

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Apr 2, 2021 16:30 by R. Dylon Elder

I LOVE IT! walking threes and of course people will want to live in them! I love how people use them as mobile homes. It makes sense that they would take advantage of the migration paths. Love it!

Apr 6, 2021 21:15 by Luca Poddighe

It reminds me a bit of a mangrove, with all these roots. Just a very very very large mangrove. That must be a sight!

Apr 7, 2021 04:04 by Morgan Biscup

Emy is going to draw it for me! *Hype*

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Apr 7, 2021 10:43 by Luca Poddighe

Please when you publish it, hit the "notify followers" button so that I don't forget to watch it!

May 24, 2021 12:42 by Luca Poddighe

Nice artwork!!!

May 24, 2021 16:09 by Morgan Biscup

Emy is amazing oh my goodness.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Apr 10, 2021 21:26 by Stormbril

This is such an amazing tree, I love the depth of thought and planning that went into the anatomy of them :D

Apr 12, 2021 11:13 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Great article and great trees :D The whole walking mechanism is super interesting and well thought out! I like that the tree is dragging itself forwards incredibly slowly rather than really "walking". And the several sets of roots are also a good idea.   So the nuts are not proper fruit here and are just a way to feed the squirrels? It's only the summer fruits that have seeds? Are all of those fruits attached a lot more strongly to the trees than real life fruits? Because it makes no sense for the tree to "waste" them by having them fall down and being out of reach of the squirrels.   Do trees often come close to each other? That would be the only way to have squirrels get to new trees wouldn't it?   For your people to get the metal from the trees is interesting though that would limit the amount they can get. Do they have a way of keeping track of where the trees currently are? Since they move it does make map rather useless with finding them. Or do they rely on gossip?

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Apr 12, 2021 13:15 by Morgan Biscup

In real life fruit trees the fruits are actually affixed pretty well while growing and then loosen when ripe. Walking trees don't loosen until they are overripe and approaching rotting.   And yes! Multiple trees can migrate together. They stay out of each other's direct paths because of the root systems, but they can travel close together and even have whole migrating forests.   Fillimet is actually a high magic world. Walking trees aren't the only settlement locations in Jannada, some are stationary, and the people have access to navigational techniques, portal travel, and telepathic style communication devices, so locating the trees would be a bit more complicated than locating ships with GPS is today but not by too much as long as the village had a skilled navigator. (The trees do pick their own paths although the inhabitants can make small alterations to the course through magical means.)

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Apr 13, 2021 21:16 by Michael Chandra

Ultimate treehouse! Helping one grow sounds like a nice real estate investment.

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Apr 13, 2021 22:32 by Morgan Biscup

It would take a while until it's big enough if you are starting from seed! But they absolutely benefit from the magical assistance of their village inhabitants.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
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