According to some research materials on mythology, hamadryads are a type of dryad (tree spirit), and dryads are in turn a type of nymph (or nature spirit), but sometimes the hamadryad was the tree the dryad linked with. In a nutshell, the hamadryad is the tree and the dryad is the human-looking mythological being associated with the tree.
I took this myth and ran with it, creating my own particular brand of dryads for Stone’s Kiss. (A paranormal romance with Gargoyles, Dryads and other strange beasties)
So Lillian, my dryad main character, needed an awesome hamadryad tree species to match her personality. This took some thought and research. I actually used my horticulture education for something writing related. Cool.
I’ve always loved trees. My backyard is full of them. In the end I narrowed my choice down to either a Redwood or a Dawn Redwood. Both tree species are rather cool. Here’s why:
The Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia) is one of the few deciduous conifers, meaning it has cones like other evergreens, but drops its needles in the fall. But what’s truly unique about this tree is that up until the 1940s it was thought to have gone extinct about 50 million years ago. The Dawn Redwood was once a robust and wide ranging tree, even found in Northern Canada. I can only imagine what a forest growing 100 million of years ago might have looked like. Then in 1946 a small stand was found in China. The tree is now a popular landscape tree. (I have two young trees.) For more information, visit the Crescent Ridge project website.
The more familiar Coastal and Giant Redwoods (two different Sequoia species) are also favorite trees of mine. These Redwoods are not as cold-hardy as the Dawn Redwood, but glorious all the same. It saddens me that far too many of these ancient giants have been clear cut. They can live 2000 years, and the tallest can reach upwards of 300 feet. Anything that can live that long deserves respect and to be allowed to continued to grow, untouched by human logging. IMHO.
Deciding which of these trees to choose for Lillian’s hamadryad wasn’t an easy task. By rights, it should have been the more adaptable and cold-hardy Dawn Redwood, but I chose the Coastal Redwood. Stone’s Kiss is a fantasy novel with a magic tree. So it can be a magically cold-hardy Coastal Redwood. ::grins::