|“||Listen to the Thunder Trees, Panther Cap. Listen to them well. They will guide you to the Fairy Ring, and through it you will find Toad Hollow.||”|
— Mistle Toad, Opening Sequence
At first glance, Thunder Trees look just like any other tree in the forest. Most often than not, they will look barren with gnarly branches while others may display a full crown of healthy leaves. Some will even have the spot where they were hit by lightning visible, usually in the form of a gaping hole in the trunk. On the more healthier trees, acorns can also be found. The presence of this nut hints that Thunder Trees are, in fact, oaks.
The sole purpose of Thunder Trees is to help newborn toadlets reach Toad Hollow before the end of the warm season. They are the only beings in the forest who know where to find the Fairy Ring, but will never deliver the answer directly. Instead, they will guide the toadlets from Thunder Tree to Thunder tree until they reach the near vicinity of the portal.
Communication through telepathy
In the very first episode of the series, it is revealed that Thunder Trees can speak to toadlets, although very few can actually hear them. As luck would have it, Panther Cap has that power. Through telepathy, he is able to understand what the trees are saying while others can only hear the rustling of the leaves. When speaking, Thunder Trees usually use riddles instead of clear sentences.
Ties to the Ancients
Although the relation between the Thunder Trees and the Ancients is never clearly specified, there are numerous hints that indicate some sort of correlation between the two. One in particular is the fact that the Temple of Bufonidae (an old stronghold of the Ancients) is located under a Thunder Tree. Also, the fact that Thunder Trees know of the Fairy Ring and Toad Hollow could further reinforce this point.
The Giver of Names
"It will always point to another Thunder Tree."
After giving this riddle, the Thunder Tree proceeds to give Panther Cap his pointer, which will do just as the Thunder Tree said.
"You will have to choose between heart and head."
When deciphered, this riddle actually gives the Toad Patrol an important life lesson of choosing between following your heart or doing the right thing. Beauty Stem is especially torn since she has to decide whether to go rescue the others despite the raging fire or lead the younger toadlets to Toad Hollow.
The Stay Away Place
"Keep moving forward; a path will be where only wind riders can go."
A bit ominous, this riddle predicts the Thunder Tree's death. After falling to the ground, its trunk creates a bridge over a great chasm that only birds would have been able to cross.
"Across the deep wet you must go, like wind riders swimming to-and-fro."
This riddle, while clearly stating the direction the Toad Patrol must take, fails to openly tell what the toadlets have to do to get there. Since it's dangerous to swim under the water or paddle on the surface due to predators, the easiest way to get across is to hide inside a duck decoy made of plastic.
The Fairy Ring
"Look for something round and high, after the deep wet turns to dry."
While the second part of the riddle clearly references a dried-up pond, the first half is a bit more difficult to decipher. It turns out that "something round and high" designates a smooth rock, which, for a toadlet, is indeed very high. This is the last riddle given by the Thunder Trees since it finally reveals the Fairy Ring's location.
- In "The Stay Away Place", a Thunder Tree is hit by lightning onscreen. It subsequently dies, having been uprooted by the blast.
- The very first Thunder Tree that Panther Cap encounters in the show is the same one featured in the opening sequence.
- In the French version of the series, Thunder Trees are called "Grand Chênes," which literally translates to "Great Oaks."
- At the Run for the Toad yearly event, there is a tent under which episodes of Toad Patrol are played on a television. The tent is called the Thunder Tree Cinema.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "One for All", Episode 1 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The Stay Away Place", Episode 6 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "The Giver of Names", Episode 2 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "Trojan Duck", Episode 7 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Bird's Eye View", Episode 10 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "The Temple of Bufonidae", Episode 12 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ "Trapped", Episode 9 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ "The Fairy Ring", Episode 13 (season 1); Toad Patrol, 1999.
- ↑ Run for the Toad FAQ. Runforthetoad.com. Retrieved 2013-07-05.