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Trees can be found on almost any playable map. Depending whether trees are scarce or dense, they can be a great renewable source of wood. The density of growth is determined by the biome, and those are visible on the pre-embark screen by hitting F1, F2 etc. Density does not change - there are no climate shifts during game play.
There are many different varieties that grow in various different types of biomes. Tower-caps are trees (giant mushrooms, actually) that grow only underground, and are the only ones that do, and then only under special circumstances. The only difference between different types of trees is the (usually very minor) difference in the weight of the log or item produced - otherwise all trees are identical, equal in usefulness and value.*
- (* Note that preferences can alter a dwarf's perception of the value of items made from a type of wood that they prefer.)
Viewed on their same z-level, many different sub-types of trees have their own symbol, such as
⌠. Some share the same symbol, but since the only difference is for preferences, this is not a significant problem. (See table, below, for tree/symbol pairs.) For most purposes, a tree is a tree.
Trees viewed from one z-level higher look like coloured rectangles (
■ ), appearing identical to coloured blocks floating in the air. Deciduous trees will change colour to red or yellow in autumn (
♠ ), and lose their leaves in winter (
╞ ). This does not affect their usefulness - they may be cut down in any season, and produce the same end result.
Trees are not a source of food or other material, so it is not possible to harvest mangos, maple syrup, nuts, rubber, etc.
Harvesting / Removing the barrier
Trees are a type of map tile that form a solid barrier, like stone or ore. Trees (but not saplings) will block movement, and prevent designation of channeling, walls and other constructions. Caravans are especially vulnerable to being blocked by trees, since they require a path 3-tiles wide. Trees do not form a floor on the level above them - creatures cannot walk "on top of" trees. However, a dwarf dropped on top of a tree will remain on top of (1 z-level above) it unless there is a neighboring surface on the same z-level for him to step off onto. Fired ammunition (arrows, bolts, &c.) will sometimes get 'stuck in a tree' in this fashion as well.
They must be designated for removal from the designations menu chop trees, which will instruct dwarves with the woodcutting labor enabled to grab an axe and begin chopping down the tree. Once cut down, they become one wood log, which is movable and can be hauled by enabling the Haul Wood labor on any dwarf and designating a wood stockpile.
Trees will not as of yet be destroyed by magma or fire (nor will water damage them in any way). Saplings can 'drown' in water and magma, though. Ballista arrows can destroy trees, but catapult stones will not.
Under certain circumstances items can wind up "on top" of trees (1 z-level above the tree). This occurs when an arrow reaches its maximum range above a tree and then falls onto it, an enemy (or part of one) flies onto the tree, or when any item is otherwise dropped directly above the tree. As dwarves cannot walk on trees, the only way to recover these items is to cut down the tree.
Trees and ramps
Digging a ramp underneath a tree will cause a cave-in - but the tree will be removed. The tree will not leave a log behind. This is not true of saplings.
Trees grow from saplings, which start growing randomly on tiles of a suitable biome. Saplings can be killed by heavy traffic, and also flooding. Dead saplings will remain for some seasons, and then disappear - or heavy traffic will trample them away. To grow from a sapling to a tree takes 3 years. Trees do not need to be (and can't be) "planted" - even if a map is stripped of all trees, new saplings will regrow, randomly and in their own time. Sadly, the elves do not seem to comprehend this.
Saplings will not grow to maturity if their tile contains an item or building (including stockpile designations), though removing the item may cause the tree to spontaneously grow up. Paved roads and farm plots periodically purge all terrain features below them, preventing trees (or shrubs) from growing in unwanted areas. Trees cannot grow on stairs or ramps, making it possible to keep trees out of your plumbing by using up stairs instead of digging (this does not reveal the tile above). Above-ground trees will only grow in areas where there is sufficient soil in a 3-tile radius beneath them (depending on the local vegetation density and the quantity of other plants nearby); Tower-caps work the same way, but they also benefit from muddy tiles in a 3-tile radius on the same Z-level.
A given area block has a limit of "things that can grow on it" - and trees and shrubs compete for this when that maximum is reached.* Removing shrubs will allow more trees (and shrubs) to be able to grow. A downside to removing these shrubberies is that most of the saplings in the area will be trampled in the process unless they are marked as low-traffic or restricted areas first, a slightly time-consuming process.
- (*Tower-caps (and underground shrubs?), on levels below the first "above ground" level, do not seem to count toward this limit.)
Elven diplomats eventually come to talk about the "tree situation" in your fort. Sometimes the diplomat will arrive and merely complain but most often the diplomat will want to set a limit to the number of trees
butchered harvested to feed fuel your earth blighting death machines industry. This quota is based on all the logs you have in your stocks, no matter what the source. It doesn't matter if you have a Tower-cap farm or if you import all your wood; if you have any wood in your stocks, the treehuggers elves will complain.
In version 0.28.181.39a and earlier, trees gained names near elven settlements. It is unclear what effect this had on gameplay, if any at all.
List of Trees
Above-ground trees marked as "Wet" will only grow within 2 tiles of a natural River or Murky Pool, while those marked as "Dry" will only grow if there is no river/pool within that range.
|Tree Name||Tile||Biome / Habitat||Alignment||Deciduous||Density (g/cm3)||"Likes them for their..."|
||Tropical Dry Broadleaf Forest
||Any Temperate Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||Yes||410||catkins|
||Any Temperate Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||620||flying keys|
||Any Temperate Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||Yes||670||catkins|
||Tropical Moist Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||No||500||flowers|
||Any Tropical Forest||All (Dry)||No||500||nuts|
||Temperate Conifer Forest
Tropical Conifer Forest
||Any Temperate Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||Yes||500||smelly catkins|
||Not Freezing||Good (Dry)||No||100||feathery leaves|
||Not Freezing||Evil (Dry)||No||1200||living shadows|
||Not Freezing||Savage (Dry)||No||500||magnificence|
Temperate Conifer Forest
||Any Tropical Forest||All (Dry)||No||500||sweet-smelling flowers|
||Tropical Moist Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||No||500||buttresses|
||Any Tropical Forest||All (Dry)||No||600||loose inflorescences|
||Temperate Broadleaf Forest
|All (Dry)||Yes||755||autumn coloration|
||Any Temperate Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||Yes||700||acorns|
||Any Tropical||All (Dry)||No||500||leaves|
Temperate Conifer Forest
Tropical Conifer Forest
||Tropical Moist Broadleaf Forest||All (Dry)||No||500||branch shedding|
||Any Desert||All (Dry)||No||500||amazing arms|
||Mangrove Swamp||All (Wet)||No||500||roots|
||*Subterranean SPECIAL*||All||No||600||great size|
Any Tropical Forest
Tropical Freshwater Swamp
Tropical Saltwater Swamp
Tropical Freshwater Marsh
Tropical Saltwater Marsh
|All (Wet)||No||420||sad appearance|