Religiously watch or frantically avoid, Game of Thrones and its final season has captivated the world. While we won’t be providing any intellectual think pieces about the trajectory of the series or its cultural footprint, we can offer you our opinions on which trees suit each of the Great Houses, the lordly families who rule the realm. Without further ado (spoilers ahead people):
House Arryn – While House Arryn may be in the hands of a teenager, this house has made its home high in the mountains: their words are high as honor, their castle sits atop the tallest mountain in the Vale, and their sigil features a soaring falcon. A fast growing, tall tree with a penchant for birds (cough D.C. Eagle Cam cough cough), the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) embodies House Arryn. Add one of these towering trees to your yard (for free!) and reap the benefits.
House Baratheon – Considered ‘legally extinct’ in Westeros since the three brothers, Stannis, Renly and Robert, were killed, there’s actually a shred of hope for this house of the stormlands: Robert’s children are actually Lannisters. Gendry, one of Robert’s last living illegitimate children, therefore is the unofficial Lord of House Baratheon. As Gendry, and therefore the House as a whole, survives impossible situation after impossible situation, it’s easy to see him as an American Elm – a stalwart that refuses to go down without a fight. With its large size and outstanding arching umbrella habit, the elm was long considered the ideal street tree. Hardy and tolerant of urban conditions, it was planted by millions across North America. This came to a crashing halt with the arrival of Dutch elm disease, which decimated the elm population. However, it’s now on the upswing (just like Gendry) thanks to numerous disease-resistant varieties. Plant one of these staunch trees to your yard and get money back through a rebate!
House Greyjoy – Ruling over the Iron Islands, a harsh and bleak collection of forbidding islands off the west coast of Westeros, House Greyjoy is a bit of a mess. Their house and influence are unstable, fractured, but still hardy – therefore a sturdy, stalwart tree needs to represent them. American sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) are among the oldest species of trees on Earth, known for their longevity and hardiness (despite all odds [capture, mental and physical torture] the Greyjoys are still fightin). Water-loving, riparian trees, Sycamores grow best in moist soils that do not dry out (Greyjoys are known for their prowess at sea and their coat of arms features a kraken). Add one of these peeling powerhouses to your yard (for free!) and reap the benefits.
House Lannister – House of lions, wealth, and power hungry mothers (ahem, Cersei), House Lannister is one of the richest and most powerful houses in all of Westeros. Likewise, the Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is not only a tough urban tree, it’s a tough tree period. Like the Lannisters maintain a hold on their power, the ginkgo has maintained its dominance and is considered a living fossil (it also survived the Hiroshima nuclear blast!). Its distinctive leaves turn a brilliant yellow in the fall (looking a lot like lion’s mane) and female trees produce berries which emanate an unpleasant, unmistakable stench (certain female Lannisters [ahem, Ceresi] have been known for their unpleasant, unmistakable decisions). A Lannister always pays their debts and so does a ginkgo: plant one (for free!) on your property and watch your investment pay off in dividends.
House Martell – Considering their last remaining prince was assassinated House Martell is in trouble. Their words “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” and their fiery personality are best represented by the American Sweetgum. Their spiky fruits and striking orange-red foliage beautifully match the sigil of House Martell, which features a bright red sun on an orange background. Add one of these durable trees (for free!) to your house and bask in its beauty all year long.
House Stark – One of the most common quotes from Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming” is actually the words for the Great House from the North, House Stark. With dynamic sister duo Sansa and Arya, as well as moody, know nothing Jon Snow, House Stark has certainly made its mark. As a symbol of winter, it stays strong despite cold the American Holly (Ilex opaca) is a fitting representation of this house. The bright red berries are reminiscent of the storied leaves of Winterfell’s iconic Weirwoods, and while they may look nice, you’ll think twice about playing with this tree when you see the sharply tipped leaves (much like sweet looking but deadly in reality sisters Sansa and Arya). For yearlong visual interest and memories of chilly weather, add an American Holly to your yard (for free!).
House Targaryen – Considering their words are “Fire and Blood” and they’re the house of dragons and Daenerys Targaryen, it seemed only fitting that a powerhouse tree represents this commanding house. Quaking Aspens are the most widely distributed tree of North America (taking over Westeros), they rot quickly (House Targaryen members often suffer from madness), their leaves can be red or yellow (Fire and Blood), they have long silvery catkins (Daenerys has iconic silver hair), and they reproduce primarily through creating clones by sending up sprouts from their roots (incest is …common in this house). While we don’t plant quaking aspens, add some Targaryen flair to your property (for free!) with a River Birch.
House Tully – The remaining House Tully member, Lord Edmure Tully, has been a captive of the Lannisters for multiple seasons – and we haven’t heard from him in a bit. While there’s always a chance for vengeance (anything can happen on GoT people!), we’ll continue to watch their rapid decline. Speaking of rapid decline, let’s talk about the Ash tree (Fraxinus). One of the most common, valuable, and abundant North American woodland trees, the ash tree is currently being decimated by an exotic pest: the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). These beetles have destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in 30 states, multiple Canadian provinces, and continue to spread westward with little sign of stopping. Like poor House Tully, the future doesn’t look bright for our dear ash. Due to EAB we don’t plant ash trees, we’d be happy to add a Hackberry, which is low-maintenance shade tree that can handle just about anything, to your yard (for free!).
House Tyrell – My my how the mighty have fallen. Unlike House Baratheon and House Martell, which have the chance to come back from extinction, House Tyrell is officially dead with no chance for resuscitation. The last living Tyrell, Lady Olenna, was poisoned last season. The fact that they’re extinct, coupled with the fact that their house words were “Growing Strong”, the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) is a perfect representation of House Tyrell. More than a century ago, nearly 4 billion American chestnut trees were growing in the eastern U.S. They were among the largest, tallest, and fastest-growing trees. It was almost a perfect tree, that is, until a blight fungus practically forced into extinction in what has been called the worst greatest ecological disaster to strike the world’s forests in all of history. Consider adding a Chestnut Oak to your yard (we can add one for free!) if you’d like a similar looking, fungus free tree.