Sonosap Willow Species in Cathedris | World Anvil

Cathedris Themesong

Sonosap Willow

Always listening, Gently repeating

Your Mother, He'an rest her heart, used to love walking through the Murmoring Grove. Lots of small critters for her to observe, you know? She'd go out there for hours, talkin' out loud, organizing her thoughts. I'm certain somewhere in those woods, there's a Sonosap that heard her talking, and is quietly playing back her soft voice, evermore.
— A father's woes
  Sonosap Willow trees are found growing within moderately dense, temperate forests, that populate the winding rivers of the mountainous southern continent of Enqua and some parts of of northern Kazcallen. These trees stand out from the rest -- gnarled, twisted, with draping leaves hanging down from their upper branches. Their bark is hardy, and comes in a variety of ashy purple or red colours. As a Sonosap Willow grows, large hollow sections of the tree begin to form near the base of the trunk, containing a crystallized sap with the ability to record audio.  

A forest of Whispers

This crystalline sap is slow flowing -- it gradually fills the hollow sections of the tree, at which point it begins to exhibit some very unique characteristics. The molecular structure of the sap, and its placement within the natural echo chambers of the hollows, allow them to act as natural sound recorders; the hollow captures the sound and directs it into the sap, where it is slowed and almost frozen within the tree.
Over time as the sap naturally settles, it will release echos of that initial recording, which then gets reflected by the tree's hollow back into the sap, over and over again. It's estimated that a Sonosap Willow could hold onto a recorded sound for hundreds of years, if left quiet and undisturbed.
Oh, what I wouldn't give to hear her voice one more time.
— A father's woes


Crystallized Sound

For the most part, any recorded sound within a Sonosap Willow is slowly erased by time -- as wind blows and rain falls, these sounds echo their way into the Sonosap. It doesn't overwrite the previous sound entirely, but rather layers more recordings over top, diluting and warping the recordings that already exist within. Almost all natural Sonosap Willow trees contain these muddled sounds -- listening carefully, you might hear the sounds of last year's thunderstorm, ancient animals scrapping nearby, or if you're very lucky, the sounds of human voices murmuring.  
It's been, what... 4 years since your mother passed? Surely, if there were any recordings of her in that forest, they'd be gone by now, right? I mean, we have had quite the spell of calm weather these last few years... but still, I'm almost certain there's no chance a recording exists.
— A father's woes

Refining Nature

Along with the advent of Simulrendology, engines, and basic electricity, a modern use for Sonosap was discovered. Very carefully taking raw, unrefined Sonosap and heating it up will evaporate the water from within, entirely crystallizing the substance and prohibiting any further recordings. However, when a small electrical current is passed through the resulting Sonocrystal, and audio previously recorded within is emitted at a very low volume. These sounds are then taken and amplified, allowing for their content to be heard again and again, whenever wanted.

Last Wishes and Heirloom Trees

The nature of recording any and all sounds heard by the tree has allowed the Sonosap Tree to become established in several cultures' mythologies and traditions. Some view the tree as a way of historical record keeping, while others view it as a mystic entity that may repeat wisdom from the ancients. Most who have any sort of cultural connection to Sonosap Trees view it with reverence, and find the idea of harvesting or harming the trees to be sacrilegious -- which puts them at odds with those who attempt to create and profit off of taking the Sonosap and refining it into Sonocrystal.
We'd intended to go for a final walk, intentionally find a tree, and talk about simple things. Then I'd have a known tree with her voice in it, that I could visit any time. But in those last days, the sickness took hold so fast, we just never got around to it...
— A father's woes

Final Words

In some cultures, when someone is close to death but still capable of walking, it is common to bring them to the site of a specifically chosen Sonosap Willow. Here, beneath the hanging vine-like leaves, the person will come -- sometimes alone, sometimes with loved ones. They will speak a final message to the base of a tree, in the hopes that once they are gone, the loved ones they left behind will find comfort in the sound of their voice reverberating from their chosen tree.

Family Echoes

A similar cultural tradition exists, though less focused on a single individual's final words. In some cases, a family will choose a Sonosap Tree to communally talk to, layering voices upon each other to make a continuous song. While a family might be sad when the recorded voice in a Final Word tree is eventually lost due to natural sounds overwriting the voice, those who partake in the creation of Family Echo trees mind not the slow erasure. To them, the mixing in of wind, rain, and future voices combine to create a sound or song that represents what it is to be a family.  
Dad! Dad! I found it! I found Mom's tree!
— A son's excitement


Click on the glowing Sonosap in the above tree to hear a sample recording!


Alternative Names
Whisperwillow, Hearcore Trees
Distribution Pattern
Located in temperate, wet areas of otherwise dry climates
Average Height
5m to 8m tall
Average Lifespan
Roughly 400 years, though some much older trees have been found


Sonosap Willows go through several different growth spurts. They often struggle to take root, dying out in early sapling stages due to a lack of available moisture for them to reach. Once they take hold though, they go through rapid growth over the course of a few years, often times reaching their mature height within half a decade. At this point the growth rate of the tree comes to a near standstill -- instead, the bark of the tree begins to harden, hollow portions begin to form in the lower trunk, and Sonosap production ramps up.

Gift from a God

Popular mythology surrounding the Sonosap Willow states that it is a constructed, designed tree. The legend goes that during the Era of Gods, before The Seven Day War and the time of the God-husks, the God of Time, T'kalia, created the tree as a gift to Xiuthan, the God of Death whom he cared for deeply. People point to the existence of Sonosap Willows in northern Kazcallen, the country in which the God-husk Xiuthan is found, as evidence supporting this myth.   T'kalia is said to have embedded his power within the tree, creating a medium within that froze time for any sound it heard, then replaying it over and over. Some say the very first Sonosap made by T'kalia and given to Xiuthan contained a recording of T'kalia confessing his love for Xiuthan, and that the tree may even still be found, hidden somewhere within a lost forest.

The forest of Screams

While in most cases the trees don't grow close to each other, in some rare locations an entire forest may be almost entirely comprised of Sonosap Willows. One such forest was once the location of a horrid battle between two warring nations -- hundreds of brutal casualties occurred among the trees, which stood there recording the sound of battle and screams of death.   Most tend to avoid entering the forest these days, as twisted versions of those screams are still echoing from the hollows of the trees that witnessed a massacre all those years ago.

Cover image: by Edwards Lee


Author's Notes

  Audio recording made with audio samples from michellelindemann1 and Leafs67, on   Audio player is a customized/formatted version of the Kleiser Audio Player.

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Jacob Billings
14 Mar, 2021 19:29

Incredible! I love the CSS, as always. It's also such a cool concept, one that would definitely be ingrained in the culture of whatever settlements were around these trees. Really unique and well written, giving a strong sense of character within your world.

14 Mar, 2021 22:19

Thank you so much Jac! :) That was my favourite part to work in, thinking about how people would interact with the plant and integrate it into their culture.

14 Mar, 2021 19:37

WOW. I love every part of this willow!! Culture built around it, angst between modernists and preservationists, and a SAMPLE AUDIO HOLY SMOKES. It's very easy to imagine, with all the detail you've packed in here. My favorite is the family echoes section--that's so beautiful! Well done Stormbril; your Cathedris articles always come to life on the screen <3

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
Now with serialized fiction on Ream!!
14 Mar, 2021 22:20

Thank you SO much Dani!! <3 This article was really fun to build, and I'm happy the parts I liked writing come across as likeable too :D   Thank you as always for reading and commenting :)

14 Mar, 2021 19:39

This is amazing! The final words section is especially poignant to me for some reason. And, as always, it look beautiful and spoopy.

14 Mar, 2021 22:22

Thank you so much Laura :) I didn't really plan it, but the more I wrote about the tree the more I thought it'd fit nicely with how certain cultures treat death and the dying. I hope I did it justice :)   Thank you so much <3

15 Mar, 2021 08:48

What an incredible article! I was already drawn to the image of the tree but then you integrated an audio fragment into it to improve it even further. I love the little quotes between as well and the way the people living near them try to get a recording before death. Also the forest of screams seems something I don't want to be near.

Feel free to check out my Orena 'Raitin Bane' page and my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
16 Mar, 2021 01:33

Why thank you! :D Fun fact, the forest of screams was the initial idea, but I ended up focusing on the trees themselves and making it less horror-focused. Still had to include the forest though -- and agreed, I'd never want to go there either, haha

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
15 Mar, 2021 13:00

My goodness, I love everything about this sonosap willow and the article. The art is obviously stunning, like always. The sound recording adds something extra, because I now know what it sounds like. Everything written about the tree makes sense and is well written. You got me with the quotes though. I was fine, until that last quote. Just can't read it without crying. It really touches my heart.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
16 Mar, 2021 01:31

Thank you so much, Rynn! When starting with the idea I hadn't intended the quotes to be the way they are now, but it just sort of grew that way as I worked on it -- I'm really happy it turned out to be touching :)   Thank you for reading and commenting!

15 Mar, 2021 14:46

This is really beautiful. I love the idea of this tree, and how important of a role they play remembering people who have passed. Its just a great idea and you developed it beautifully. Also that CSS is just killer!

Creator of Arda Almayed
16 Mar, 2021 01:34
15 Mar, 2021 23:25

This was beautiful. Really, really solid work here, from the CSS to the horrific screams. Well done!

16 Mar, 2021 01:34

*goes to forest of screams* *adds my own screams to the screams*   Thank you, Maybe! <3

15 Mar, 2021 23:59

Wow... Just wow! The CSS alone is absolutely incredible! but even the article itself, the creative idea of such a bittersweet plant that can record such important messages. The use of quotes throughout makes this plant and the world come to life. Amazing job, well done!

16 Mar, 2021 01:36

Thank you, Blades! I think that's always such a fun part of world building, is adding in quotes and truly tying it to the world. (and of course, CSS)   Thanks again for reading and commenting :D

9 Nov, 2021 19:56

Hi Blades! I think there's an unclosed bit of BBCode in your signature, as the rest of the comments after it are all italic. Would you be able to fix that? Thanks! :)

16 Mar, 2021 18:09

This is such a beautiful article, both in appearance and content. Except the Forest of Screams - that's terrifying. The audio recording really elevates this into something special! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
16 Mar, 2021 22:54
17 Mar, 2021 08:27

This is one fancy tree. The stories around it are a bit heartwrenching but I can see it work very well in this world and others. If it's okay I'd like to use it in some future DnD games in my own setting. I do have one question, how does it reproduce? If it has something like an acorn I can envision people attempting to grow their own family tree from that. Or maybe try to grow a new one from a broken branch.

18 Mar, 2021 18:24

Thank you so much! You can use it, sure -- if you could just link back to this article for your players to see this, that'd be really cool too!   This tree would reproduce with seeds -- I don't think it'd be acorns, but probably closer to real life willow trees, which are long wispy seeds. These ones would need high ambient temperatures to germinate, which is why they're often found in temperate regions of otherwise warm, dry areas.   I could definitely see people trying to grow one on their property too! Though, if it's grown within city limits, or if the area is too bustling and full of activity, the recording would get drowned out by the noise of the city pretty quick :(   Thanks for the comment and question!

18 Mar, 2021 20:14

I see, then it's probably easiest to grow from branches or I need to look into how to collect those wispy seeds. Maybe I'll play it as a framer specialised in growing this sort of tree and the family tree being a remnant of times long passed. Only a custom still practised in small towns. I'll link the article for my players.

Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
17 Mar, 2021 14:53

Gosh, I love your world. And I particularly love all the care that went into the design of this piece. The way the tree and its roots interact with the page is just fantastic.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
17 Mar, 2021 17:34

Another amazing article, and its awesome to see someone else expiriemnting with audio! excellent work on that as well. I love how you implemented it and would love to know the magic behind it as thats something ive been trying to figure out XD   The content itself is amazing as always. It's a nice creepy addition to the world. Loved the touches on how it affects those int he world as well. Those quotes are beautiful. Well done!

18 Mar, 2021 18:30

Why thank you! Messing around with audio is REALLY COOL! This is my first attempt with it, and I'd love to use the trick more often. I can give a quick overview of it here:   Overall, it's just me using the iframe statblock to embed a personal website that I've hosted on github! I had to learn a little bit of HTML, and then find a template audio player I could mess about with to make what I wanted. Template audio player: My Github hosted website:   Then I added it via a worldanvil iframe statblock, and used CSS to remove any and all styling from it, so it appears only as the image I have on my website. Little bit of positioning magic, and it's good to go! Now that I've done the heavy lifting there, I can make more sites and simply swap the image/audio around to be whatever I want, rather easily.   And as always, thank you so much :D I wanted to mix creepy + melancholy/somberness together with this tree, and had a lot of fun doing so.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
18 Mar, 2021 18:38

......omg...... OMG THATS BRILLIANT WHY DIDNT I EVEN THINK OF THAT I FORGOT IFRAME STATEBLOCKS WERE EVEN A THING HOLY CRAP YOUVE CHANGE THE GAME FOR ME. ahem. Thank you for teaching me the weirding way. I assume you could do that for... like alot if things. That really opens up so much.

18 Mar, 2021 18:50

DUDE RIGHT? THERE'S SO MUCH WE CAN DOOOOOOOOOOO! The more I learnt about iframe statblocks, the more excited I got until I made this AND NOW I WANNA MAKE MORE!   I'm super excited to see what you make :D

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
19 Mar, 2021 06:50

Doooo it! Yessss. I'll have to fiddle about with it and see what I can actually do. Not nearly as good at art as you, good sir. I'm excited though. Got some ideas cooking already.

22 Mar, 2021 22:34

The formatting and css here makes my eyes go *BOOM*. It's just incredible!

23 Mar, 2021 00:46
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
22 Mar, 2021 23:14

This is an amazing article! I love the audio file you have on the tree! This is so cool! And your whole page looks amazingly pretty. I love all the tree branches growing everywhere. And the tree is great too of course :D   I like your explanation of the how the tree records sounds, it really makes sense.   The legend about its creation by the god of time is also very nice. Do you have an article about them? You don't have a link in the article.   The way people use the trees and the influence on their culture is great! I'm wondering how common are those trees, since I'd imagine everyone would want to have their own. Can they grow them in their backyard or is it only growing in specific forests? Do people ever fight because they discover that they are talking to the same tree?   I love how you sprinkled bits of a personal story with the quotes.   I'm wondering if the tree has any biological reason for why it becomes hollow and exposes its sap?

To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
23 Mar, 2021 00:56

Thank you so much Amélie! This is a really wonderful comment you've left me :D   I don't have an article for T'kalia or Xiuthan yet! I've been rather slow at getting articles done for all my gods, haha :(. T'kalia will be next after Rak'tos, but I haven't done her article yet either. SOON HOPEFULLY! Xiuthan will be a while longer, but I reference her here if interested! (Note, this is a very old article and needs updating, haha!)   The trees themselves aren't super common, nor are they super rare! In an average forest where you'd find them, maybe 5-7% of the trees would be Sonosap Willows? People would probably definitely fight over them too. I'm sure there'd even be some instances of sabotage by particularly angry people, where they scream obscenities into a tree to overwrite whatever was recorded initially :P   As for a biological reason... I'm honestly not too sure, I sort of designed them just for the neat-factor and forgot actual biology! haha. It might be something to do with reproduction and pollination for the trees -- growing hollow to incentivize habitation or visitation by creatures that will then in turn spread material? I might have to think on it more, and possibly add to the article!

24 Mar, 2021 08:24

Hi! As is usually the cas with your articles, I love your CSS, and the way you manage to make your artworks stick out of the page.   As for the content itself, well, the idea to directly add a sound sample was great! It made the concept interactive, and made me realize how ominously creepy a forest of these trees could be. Constantly murmuring, whispering long gone voices... Makes me shiver. The way you added a few quotes about the father's woes and the son's excitement also added to the emotional impact of the article.   All in all, congratulation! I think that's the best entry I've read so far :D

With love,   Pouaseuille.
25 Mar, 2021 05:38

Thank you so much for the incredible compliment and comment! I'm really honored you think so -- there's some INCREDIBLE articles for this challenge, so that means a lot to me :D

Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
27 Mar, 2021 23:32

I can't get over how brilliant this is. I love being able to experience the audio clip - it gave me chills! This is such a unique and fascinating concept, and it's executed to perfection.

Cait x
29 Mar, 2021 21:07

Thank you so much Brins! <3 I'm really happy to hear this crazy idea worked :)

2 Apr, 2021 04:17

Wow.   That's all I can say.   ....okay, maybe not--I'm always blown away at the sheer magnitude of your page layouts. They   Got my vote without question.   Wow.

Storyteller, Cartoonist,..pretty awesome friend =)
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2 Apr, 2021 23:59

That is incredibly high praise! Thank so much :) this challenge is really bringing out some incredible work! The competition is tough this time around, I am loving everything seeing!

Luca Poddighe
2 Apr, 2021 15:49

This is beautiful. The story in the quotes is so sensible that has given me goosebumps! I liked too the introduction in the legends of your world on the side panel and the sound is a very cool touch!

2 Apr, 2021 18:01
Mark Laybolt
10 Apr, 2021 20:17

Hi Stormbril! I've already gushed my love of your article several times but I was revising my favourite entries article and figured I'd drop a comment too. Your idea is amazing, your CSS design is incredible, and the integration of the tree image into your article layout is fantastic. Keep making amazing content!

10 Apr, 2021 21:46

Aw, you didn't have to do that! Thank you for the comment, it means a lot :) And thank you for the exceptionally kind words! I will keep being amazing as long as you keep being amazing too :D

Mark Laybolt
10 Apr, 2021 21:58

Well I wanted to :P and I'll take that deal !

11 Apr, 2021 00:53

Awesome styling, very interesting tree, and I really am glad for the guy that his son found the tree. It reminds me of how some people keep voicemails of lost ones, so they can still hear their voice again, and how heartbroken they are when they lose the voicemails.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
12 Apr, 2021 03:25

Thank you! :) That's definitely the sort of vibe I was going for -- sad, but happy, melancholy feeling like that. It's a heartbreaking yet heartwarming thing to witness

12 Apr, 2021 16:58

A battle, a love story, and a story of loss, all woven in to the whole. I love these trees. <3

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
14 Apr, 2021 22:26

Thank you so much Angela! <3 This one felt really good to write.

16 May, 2021 17:25

Fabulous concept! And a visually stunning presentation. Very nice work.

Time Bender
16 May, 2021 22:36

This is a fascinating idea! And also eerie but beautiful. It would be so nice to walk by one of those trees and hear the words of a loved one speaking from the tree!

17 May, 2021 23:35

Thank you! <3 I agree, that's something I wish I could experience, I'd spend hours by one of these trees!

7 Nov, 2021 14:13

Oh my gods these quotes. The quotes! This article is beautiful all around, but the quotes did it for me. What a beautiful way to slowly tell a story that communicates so well how this tree is regarded by people.   This species was a fascinating read, and that story about the war is the most perfect way to create a truly haunted forest. Excellent work as always.

9 Nov, 2021 19:59

Thank you so much Nae! <3   The quotes and the culture that goes with the tree was my absolute favourite to write about :)

13 Nov, 2021 22:07

Every time I read this dang article, that last quote makes me tear up, even when I know it's coming.

If you're seeing this, I may have used your article for my 2023 Reading Challenge.
21 Jan, 2022 00:06

Both the content of this article and it's design are beautiful. I wouldn't even begin to understand how you set up all this with CSS. Truly a remarkable job!

22 Jan, 2022 03:29

Thank you so much! Most of it is just visual fun stuffs that was easy, but getting the sonosap to play audio when clicked... that was hard xD

31 Jan, 2022 18:46

Well its brilliant, fantastic job!

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