Hellfire Pine | E. Christopher Clark

Hellfire Pine

The so-called “Hellfire Pine” is a type of tree found in the forests of Eden. Known for its tall crown and fire-activated seeds, this pyrophytic evergreen is also famous for its nigh-indestructible wood—a prized material which was used to build The Strumpet’s Sister.

Basic Information


An adult Hellfire Pine is characterized by a wide umbrella-like crown sitting high atop a tall, thick trunk. The reddish bark is also thick, with deep vertical fissures—a distinctive pattern that some Edenites call “the tears of the tree.”


In its youth, the Hellfire Pine’s canopy is far more irregular—the staggered heights of the thing reminding some of a lit torch.

Genetics and Reproduction

Much like Earth-native species such as the lodgepole pine and the Eucalyptus, the Hellfire Pine requires the high temperatures of a raging fire for its seeds to sprout. This is because of the serotinous cone the tree produces, which is completely sealed with resin—resin so stubborn and impregnable that even the flow of lava sometimes isn’t enough to melt it.


This makes the planting of a new Hellfire Pine forest a most precarious proposition. Though the potential reward in super-strong hellfire wood is too much for many Edenites to resist, many a cultivator has gone broke trying to plant cones that just refused to be prized open.

Ecology and Habitats

The Hellfire Pine is distinct for being the one plant species native to Eden—all other species having originated on some other world prior to the Calamity. And while the tree can flourish in any biome found here—even The Desert at the Edge of Existence—the Hellfire Pine is notable for never having been successfully introduced to a world outside of Eden. The cones, everlasting in every other context, cannot survive transport through the Veil of the World or through any of the doorways inside the Strumpet’s Sister.


And so, this tree only gets to exist in the world between worlds.


Dietary Needs and Habits

The tree requires very little water, relying mostly on rain and other forms of precipitation to quench its thirst—its roots strangely avoiding rivers whenever possible. But it does rely heavily on the rays of the sun, the overcast sections of Oz and some of The Reek’s smoggier cities being the only places where the Hellfire Pine truly struggles to take hold.

Scientific Name
Pinus gehénnam
50–150 years
Conservation Status
Conservation Dependent (CD)
Average Height


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Mar 27, 2021 21:54 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Cool tree and nice article! I like all of your pictures making the trees appear on fire :D   Some notes I took while reading:   Very minor problem, but from the introduction I thought there was only one specimen of your tree in your world (I think it's because I've read other articles where it was the case). You could say "type of trees" instead of "a tree" if you want to, but other people probably won't have the same problem.   A minor suggestion: you could add the picture showing the different type of conservation status and highlighting which one is conservation dependent? I didn't know which one that was, so I had to look it up.   I like that the cone can even resist lava!   So after reading your article I'm wondering how common your tree is in this world and how it get to reproduce. After volcanic eruptions? Are they common? You could also expand on the problem of people struggling to plant a forest and let the trees grow enough to reproduce, while they could get quick money by cutting it off. That must not help with the conservation status of the tree!   You could also add examples of what people have done to try to get the cones to open, maybe even as a quote as I'm sure there is some interesting stories there :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Mar 27, 2021 23:02 by E. Christopher Clark

Good note about the introduction. I've just fixed that. As for expanding on stuff, I tend to leave a little more to the imagination than most. But it's also the case with this thing that I just don't know yet. I plan to expand more later.   At any rate, thanks for taking the time to read it and comment!

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Mar 27, 2021 22:04

Those are some very fire resistant seeds if they can handle lava! I feel sorry for the people who try to get the forest planted :p Nice article!

Feel free to check my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
Mar 27, 2021 23:04 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks for the kudos! And yeah, I wanted them to be absurdly fire-resistant in some cases.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Mar 27, 2021 22:53 by O4

I think this is an amazingly original concept for a plant! I love it! There is so much potential in this idea that is not (YET) realized in the article. Are you going to expand on it further? I sure hope so :)

Mar 27, 2021 23:05 by E. Christopher Clark

I will probably expand it at some point, but right now this was all I had in me. I do know that these trees tie into the greater mythos of my world, along with the River Without End, but I haven't figured out how yet.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Mar 28, 2021 11:44 by James Slaven

Great read! I quite enjoyed the parts about the Strumpet's Sister (fantastic) and the "tears of the tree" (a nice bit of detail). Have you considered adding in quotes from the people who try to cultivate them or live near them?

Mar 28, 2021 16:06 by E. Christopher Clark

I hadn't yet, but that's a nice idea. Quotes are one of those things I see folks using to great effect elsewhere. I really should add more of them to my own articles

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Mar 28, 2021 16:57 by Nico

I like it! And gives me mammoth tree vibes for some reason!

Mar 28, 2021 19:15 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks! I had to go remind myself what a mammoth tree was. Yeah, that's part of the idea. Looking forward to illustrating these more in context at some point to better show their size.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Mar 29, 2021 10:26 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I love that you've taken the 'only grows after fire' seeds and taken them up to eleven. I like that some are so stubborn that they don't germinate even after exposure to lava. Really nice pictures, too - they really bring the article to life. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Mar 29, 2021 20:35 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you! I have a working theory about why some of them are so stubborn, but I have to work on it some more. And I'm so glad you liked the pictures! It was fun to pull those together.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Mar 29, 2021 12:22 by TC

Very interesting tree! I would personally love to know more about its place in folklore, stories or cultures (if it has any). I'm glad you decided to write an article for the challenge!

Creator of Arda Almayed
Mar 29, 2021 20:34 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you! I definitely want to know more about those things, too. This was definitely a case of opening a doorway to a brand new corner of the world that I have yet to fully explore.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Apr 2, 2021 03:31 by Jaime Buckley

HAHAHAHAHA....okay, you have to understand Chris, that I got the MOST enjoyment from this article, watching my brilliant (and I do mean %$#$#!! smarter than me) teenage son, going over this page, frustrated and intrigued at the same time.   He refused to let it go and had to follow the links to know more, so he could understand, "What the CRAP is he TALKING about?!??"   I laughed so hard---and he loved it.   You have a brilliant mind, my friend. Well done!!   Man---if you could have seen Simon's face. You wouldn't stop smirking, I promise.

Storyteller, Cartoonist,..pretty awesome friend =)
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Apr 2, 2021 12:23 by E. Christopher Clark

Ha! Having a teenager in my house now, and having taught some teenagers over the years, I can totally imagine the intonation of "What the CRAP is TALKING about?!?" and then a frustrated/intrigued click to find out.   And then another "Yeah, but what the CRAP is he TALKING about?!?"   Thanks for sharing this, man. Definitely put a smile on my face.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Apr 2, 2021 12:33 by Jaime Buckley

My son: "Just make sure he knows I still thought it was really cool, okay dad?""

Storyteller, Cartoonist,..pretty awesome friend =)
Subscribe to Life of Fiction to see the live results of all this worldbuilding.
Apr 2, 2021 15:22 by E. Christopher Clark

Aw, thank him for that! I totally got that impression. You can let him know I have a 15-year-old, and I'm still pretty much a 17-year-old at heart, so I speak pretty fluent teenager.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Apr 11, 2021 09:42 by Michael Chandra

If this tree needed sprouting in Belgium, they'd send in the army. Wouldn't be the first time they used flamethrowers on trees. (Originally they once used those to fight Oak Processionary Caterpillars.) I am now really enjoying the idea of soldiers being sent to a forest to help sprout seeds with flamethrowers. Shame the seeds don't make it past. But what about cuttings, do those also die or fail to grow?

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Apr 12, 2021 11:44 by E. Christopher Clark

I, too, am loving the idea of soldiers being sent in with flamethrowers to help a forest grow. I might have to write that scene now.   Good question about cuttings. I'm not sure. What do you think?

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Apr 12, 2021 11:54 by Michael Chandra

I'd probably go with 'requiring special treatment to be dormant and handling the change' myself, depending on how hard/easy I want to make it. For example, having to wax it in a special substance, and even then only a 1/5 chance for a cutting to survive, and a small chance for a cutting to then turn into a full plant. The bigger the cutting, the smaller the chance at survival yet the bigger the chance at growing afterwards, something like that. Puts several restraints on the process, to keep it very rare.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Apr 13, 2021 23:19 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you for the great ideas! I definitely need to revisit this one when I have time, as all of these comments have expanded my notions about it.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Apr 16, 2021 01:39 by Mark Laybolt

Hey ecc!   So I remember seeing your article come across my Twitter feed and I swore I liked and commented. Fortunately I continued my Peculiar Plant article reading during the share week and caught my memory lapse.

Excellent work on your article. I really like that your article page feels different from the rest of World Anvil, and the art you've included is fantastic. You have a great hook with 'you have to go between worlds to get it'. I would like to see more about the 'uses' though rather than just the wood being super strong / fire resistant. Also, I think that you accidentally said "refused to be prized open" rather than "pried open" immediately prior to the "Ecology and Habitats" section. Regardless, great job!

Apr 16, 2021 11:46 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you! I definitely need to think more about this one. I had been hesitant to even write a Peculiar Plants entry after making the shortlist for the Hero's Journey challenge and being inordinately disappointed about losing. So I ended up kinda just dashing this one off a bit more haphazardly than I would've liked.   As for "prized" vs "pried," I actually meant to use "prize." It's a chiefly British use/meaning of the word that I really like. See Collins Dictionary #5. But yeah, I should’ve thought about potential confusion—given that I chiefly use American English and not British English.

Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
Apr 16, 2021 13:09 by Mark Laybolt

I saw your reflection in the Discord this morning too. I cannot claim to have experienced making a short list but not winning, on the basis that I've never made the short list, but I understand how that could be both a boost and a blow to one's self-esteem/motivation. I've been trying to keep the mindset that there's a lot of incredible creators on World Anvil (yourself included) and things like Peculiar Plants are intentionally branded "challenges" not "competitions". I share these ramblings only to try and communicate that you're not wrong or alone in feeling disappointed or discouraged and, as you said in Discord, having focused personal goals is the right mindset to help yourself during your never-ending journey as a creator rather than relying on winning community challenges. But we all f*** it up sometimes and that's okay too haha   Re:/ American v British English, myself being Canadian so I use a bastardized form of both, thank you for teaching me the localized denotation for prize. I should've have expected such if I'm perfectly honest. Consider my comment superfluous, as they all typically are anyway, and keep writing with (your) style!

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