Among all the iconic imagery of Game of Thrones, one of the HBO show’s most enduring images is the godswood of Winterfell, and, most importantly, its Weirwood tree. Countless crucial interactions between the Stark siblings played out under the ancient tree’s blood-red leaves as its carved wooded face looked on in silence.
In King’s Landing’s Red Keep castle, there was no matching Weirwood, highlighting the difference between the sacred northern castle and its sinful southern counterpart. But in House of the Dragon, that’s no longer the case.
What is a Weirwood tree anyway?
Let’s start with some quick Game of Thrones/House of the Dragon basics. A Weirwood tree is a deciduous tree (ie. the kind that sheds its leaves seasonally) with white bark. Its leaves and sap are both the color of blood. These trees played a major role in the ancient religion of Westeros that worships the “Old Gods.” They typically have faces carved into the bark at the center of the tree.
Weirwood trees are often found in a Godswood, which is essentially just a forested area within a castle’s walls often used for religious observance or meditation. Like Winterfell, King’s Landing also has a Godswood, but in Game of Thrones, it featured a regular oak tree, not a Weirwood.
When the Andals invaded Westeros roughly 6,000 years before Game of Thrones, they chopped down the vast majority of Weirwood trees, leaving only a few in fortified places up north. That’s presumably why there wasn’t one in King’s Landing, which was only built a few hundred years before GoT begins. Except...
Why is there a Weirwood tree in King’s Landing?
Fans first noticed what looked like a Weirwood tree in the Godswood of King’s Landing in early marketing for the series, but House of the Dragon Episode 1 confirms that there is indeed a Weirwood within the Red Keep. This would seem to defy the canon both of Game of Thrones and of the books written by George R.R. Martin.
Notably, Martin is heavily involved in the new series, so it’s unlikely the show decided to change canon like this without his permission. However, this does raise some questions since we know that the Red Keep’s Weirwood can’t last forever (assuming GoT is still canon, that is). So we have to assume that someone is going to chop it down — or more likely burn it down, given the name of the show.
Call it Chekhov's Weirwood tree. After all, there’s no way House of the Dragon would introduce it in Episode 1 if it wasn’t going to use the tree in some major way before the series is finished.
House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.