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This article focuses on the Land Without Magic creature species.
For their inhabitation, see Tree Nymphs' Grove.
For the creatures species of unknown origin with a similar name, see Sea Nymphs.
Flora: Darling, you are of eternal nature, like all of our kind. Raised in the...
Gothel: "The steadiness of seasons".
Flora and Gothel src

Tree Nymphs are a humanoid creature species featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. They are native to the Land Without Magic, and first appear in the seventh episode of the seventh season.

The Tree Nymphs are based on the dryads from Greek Mythology. The most prominent Tree Nymph, Gothel, is based on Dame Gothel from the fairytale "Rapunzel" and Mother Gothel from the Disney film Tangled. The "mother" title of the Tree Nymphs, taken by both Gothel and Flora, indicates that they fill the role of Mother Nature.

Biology

Tree Nymphs are human in appearance, but with a turquoise skin tone and green-ish hair. They have the ability to glamour themselves to hide their natural skin tone and hair color. Only female Tree Nymphs have appeared so far, and it is not known whether there are any male Tree Nymphs in existence. They possess magic with a heavy focus on phytokinesis, though they can use other abilities as well. ("Flower Child")

Tree Nymphs are said to be of eternal nature; indeed, even after several thousands of years, Gothel appears the same. Despite apparently not aging, however, they can be murdered, as all of the Tree Nymphs except for Gothel were wiped out by humans wielding fire and axes. ("Flower Child")

It is possible for a Tree Nymph to procreate with a human as seen with Gothel and Hook, who are the biological parents of Alice, though it appears she has not taken on any of the Tree Nymph physical traits. ("Eloise Gardener")

Culture

Tree Nymphs seem to operate as a family, treating each other as sisters while one takes the role of mother, which can eventually be passed down to other Nymphs. Flora was the mother of the Tree Nymphs for some time and planned to pass the title to Gothel, which she fulfilled with her last words.

Tree Nymphs are largely solitary creatures, sticking to their own kind rather than interact with humans, who they find untrustworthy and believe will torture them for being magical. Despite this, when Gothel expresses interest in being a part of the human world, she is permitted to make her own choice by Flora, who gently encourages her to choose the Tree Nymphs over the humans. Furthermore, even once her actions result in the rest of the Tree Nymphs being killed, Flora does not reprimand her and states that she knows only goodness can bear sweet fruit, further emphasizing the kindhearted nature of Tree Nymph culture. The Tree Nymphs' Grove can only be accessed by those with a key, further separating Tree Nymphs from human culture. ("Flower Child")

History

Before First Curse

In the Land Without Magic before it lost its magic, this realm is where the Tree Nymphs resided in a grove, which is accessible by a special key that one of the nymphs, Gothel, owns. Flora is the "Mother" of the Tree Nymphs, in that it is her duty and responsibility to be the Mother of all magic in the realm. She is also a mother to the other nymphs, though it's not known if any of them are her biological children, in addition to the other nymphs referring to each other as "sisters". Flora, at some point, chooses Gothel as to be the next Mother who will guide their kind as she has, however, Gothel more interested in the human world. ("Flower Child")

One day, Gothel and her sister, Yarrow, are walking through the woods as they are glamoured to look like humans. They venture close to a home, where they observe human women inside trying on ball gowns. Gothel is awed by the beauty of their fabrics, but Yarrow tries to persuade her that they don't belong with humans in their world. Undeterred by Yarrow's warnings, Gothel sneaks into the home to touch the gowns and uses her magic to make a rose bud on one of them bloom open. The human women, who reentered the room without Gothel noticing, witness her ability to manipulate nature, but instead of being afraid, two of the women, Isla and Seraphina, declare her magic is beautiful and welcome her as their new sister. On returning home to the grove, which Gothel accesses with a special key, she is encouraged by Flora to take off her human disguise and wear her true form proudly, which she does. Flora, having been told by Yarrow about Gothel's indiscretion towards humans, cautions her that they're creatures who are conflicted and irrational, even though Gothel believes the ones she met are different. When reminded that she will one day become the Mother, Gothel ponders the fact she can choose to take the mantle or not. Flora puts her trust in her that she will make the right decision and be wise in realizing the only option is to follow nature. ("Flower Child")

That night, Gothel dons her human form again and attends a ball that Isla and her friends invited her to. Isla wishes to see a demonstration of magic, but as Seraphina points out she can't do it in public, Gothel is taken by them to an abandoned building, where she makes a flower bloom from dead roots. Only then, Isla reveals her cruel streak by stomping on the flower before having two of her minions hold Gothel as she berates her for being an abomination. As a horrified Seraphina watches, Isla further humiliates Gothel by dumping mud on her and spitefully telling her to find another place to grow her roots as her kind don't belong in this realm. Before leaving, Isla snatches Gothel's key and uses it to infiltrate the grove with other humans to eradicate all the Tree Nymphs with fire and axes. ("Flower Child")

Coming home and finding everything in ruins, Gothel learns from a dying Flora about what the humans did and swears to get revenge. Flora, however, simply wishes for her to become the Mother and use the strong seed of magic within her to go elsewhere to begin anew and blossom into her role. Gothel returns to the ball, where she materializes vines to trap Isla before snapping her neck. She moves to finish off Seraphina too, believing her to have helped in the massacre of her family, but Seraphina blocks the attack with her own magic, revealing she had been masking her abilities in fear of being targeted. After sparing Seraphina and accepting her as an ally because of the shared oppression they've both faced as magic users, Gothel exacts her revenge by poisoning the rest of the remaining humans in the realm. With the entire Tree Nymph species wiped out except for Gothel, the last bit of magic that once was no longer exists, making this world a land without magic. Gothel, with Seraphina, use a magic bean to go to the New Enchanted Forest, where they gather others like them and return to the Land Without Magic after humanity has bounced back to cleanse the world of humans again. ("Flower Child")

Known Tree Nymphs

Trivia

On-Screen Notes

  • All known tree nymphs have a name referencing plants, just like the members of the Coven of the Eight:
    • While "Gothel" herself, which comes from the "Rapunzel" fairytale, is a Hessian dialect word for "godmother",[1] her cursed counterpart's name is Eloise Gardener, in which the word "gardener" refers to a person who tends and cultivates a garden as a pastime or for a living.[2]
    • The name "Flora" comes from the Latin word flos which means "flower".[3]
    • The name "Yarrow" is a reference to the tree nymph's affinity with nature and plants. The yarrow plant is an ancient healing herb.[4] According to magic lore, it can be used for a wide range of rituals, such as divination, love spells, cleansing the aura, and psychic communication.[5]

Appearances

References

  1. Mirror Mirrored: A Contemporary Artists' Edition of 25 Grimms' Tales, Corwin Levi, Michelle Aldredge, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, 2018, p. 342. Facsimile by Google Books.
  2. gardener. OxfordDictionaries.com. Retrieved on September 10, 2018.
  3. Given Name FLORA. Behind the Name. Retrieved on April 28, 2018.
  4. Sobo, Ilana. Yarrow: Ancient Herb of Healing, Protection, and Power. The Alchemist's Kitchen. Retrieved on December 26, 2018. “Yarrow has been made use of for a very long time by humans. In fact, Yarrow was found amongst other medicinal herbs in a Neanderthal burial site in Iraq, which dates from around 60,000 BC”
  5. Yarrow. Witchipedia. Retrieved on December 26, 2018.

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