The Whomping Willow was a deciduous tree known for being violent towards anything that gets in range of its branches.
The Whomping Willow was a valuable but vicious tree. Its branches were limbs - functioning arms that had to be treated when damaged. The tree was planted to hide a secret passageway underneath which led to the Shrieking Shack.
The tree was temporarily paralysed by tapping a knot on the trunk, and people have been known to use a long branch to tap it. The knot was very difficult to get to because the branches of the tree whipped round trying to hit anyone who goes near it.
The passageway the tree was accessed by going through the roots when the knot had stopped it attacking. The passageway was included in the Marauder's Map, but it didn't show where it ended up because the Shrieking Shack was in Hogsmeade and not in school grounds.
Just prior to September 1971, Professor Dumbledore had a Whomping Willow planted at Hogwarts School for a new student, Lupin. The purpose of the tree was to guard an entrance to the Shrieking Shack, where Lupin had to go every time he was going to transform into a werewolf. He used a stick to paralyse the tree and was taken by Poppy Pomfrey.
Students used to play a game when it was first planted. They had to try and get close enough to the trunk to touch it, but Davey Gudgeon nearly lost an eye and they were forbidden to go near it again.
James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew later joined Lupin when they learned how to turn Animagus. Being a tiny rat, Peter could slip pass the tree's branches to get to the knot to paralyse it. Lupin was once spotted being taken to the tree by a curious student they bullied, Severus Snape. Black thought it was funny to tell Snape how to prod a knot on the tree to get into the passageway, and Potter had to intervene to stop Snape getting too close to Lupin to be attacked.
In September 1992, Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley was driving the Ford Anglia when it run out of power and dropped into the tree. It began violently beating the car and broke Ron's wand. They damaged the tree and Professor Sprout had to mend it by putting a lot of its branches in bandages and slings.
In 1993, Harry's Nimbus 2000 fell into the Whomping Willow when he attacked by Dementors. The tree beat up the broom into a dozen pieces of splintered wood and twigs. Professor Flitwick fetched it and gave the pieces back to Harry but it could never be healed.
In June 1994, Ron was dragged to the tree by Sirius Black because he had Scabbers (Peter Pettigrew). Harry and Hermione pursued Ron, but even though Black had tapped the knot, the tree had woken up again when they got to it. They were knocked by the branches, but Crookshanks helped because he got round the branches and tapped the knot. The three then headed down the passageway under it to the Shrieking Shack. Lupin later passed through, and Harry dropped the Cloak of Invisibility near it. Snape later found it.
Notes and sources
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 6
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 17
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 9