The Ellcrys is a fictional sapient tree with silver bark and crimson leaves that was "created by the bonding of earth and life". She appears in two novels of the Shannara series. She is the magical linchpin of the barrier that keeps the Demons that once overran the Four Lands trapped in an alternate world; this world and the barrier are both known as the Forbidding. She is tended to by a group of young Elves known as the "Chosen", who are selected by the tree itself. The Ellcrys first appeared in the novel The Elfstones of Shannara, where the protagonists embarked upon a quest to attempt a "rebirth" of the Ellcrys before she died. The Ellcrys also plays a part in the Shannara prequel series Genesis of Shannara as well as in The Dark Legacy of Shannara.
|“||Perfectly formed, [the Ellcrys'] silver-white trunk arched skyward in a symmetrically balanced network of tapered limbs clustered with broad, five-cornered leaves that were blood-red in color. At her base, strips of green moss grew in patchwork runners through the cracks and crevices of the smooth-skinned bark, like emerald streams flowing down a mountain hillside. There were no splits to mar the trunk's even lines, no branches cracked or broken.||”|
The First Ellcrys
There have been three separate Ellcrys trees, and each started life as an Elven woman. Little is known about Aleia Omarosian, who became the first Ellcrys, except that she consented to be made into the Ellcrys by Elven magicians during the Age of Faerie, prior to the advent of the world of Men. She thrived for many millennia as the Ellcrys, enduring the encroachment of Men upon the Elven lands and surviving the Great Wars. However, she sickened and died quite rapidly about fifty years after the Third War of the Races. By the time Lauren, one of the Chosen, noticed that some of the Ellcrys' brilliant crimson leaves were discolored, the Forbidding had already weakened to a point where a few of the most powerful Demons could escape into the Westland. One of these Demons, the Reaper, infiltrated Arborlon and killed all of the Chosen in the city.
The Second Ellcrys
However, forgotten by all, there had been a female Chosen, Amberle Elessedil, the first female Chosen in half a millennium and the granddaughter of King Eventine. While the Ellcrys normally "spoke" (via telepathy while extending tendrils to physically contact the individual) to each Chosen only at the time of the Choosing, the Ellcrys had spoken to Amberle on an almost daily basis, ultimately frightening and confusing the girl so badly that she became the first Chosen to ever abandon his or her duties. She left Arborlon and as a direct result became the only Chosen to survive the massacre. According to Allanon, only a Chosen could undertake the mission to restore the Ellcrys, making Amberle the only suitable person for the quest.
Amberle obtained a seed from the Ellcrys and traveled with Wil Ohmsford on a journey to immerse this seed in the magical fountain called the Bloodfire, located in a place named Safehold. During the journey, the first Ellcrys perished and a horde of Demons entered the Westland. Wil and Amberle successfully penetrated the Wilderun in the southern Westland, reaching Safehold and the Bloodfire. At this point, unbeknownst to Wil, Amberle came to understand and accept that she was required to sacrifice her mortal life and become the successor to the Ellcrys. When they returned to Arborlon, Amberle was transformed into a new Ellcrys.
Allanon revealed that while all of the Chosen bore the responsibility of caring for the Ellcrys and providing her with companionship, only a female Chosen could actually become the Ellcrys. As a result, the tree only ever selected a female Chosen if she believed that her life was in danger and therefore an heir was needed. This had happened several times during her lifetime, though Allanon did not know the circumstances leading to the previous instances.
About two hundred years after her transformation, the second Ellcrys was encapsulated within the Loden, along with the structures and residents of Arborlon, and transported to the island of Morrowindl. She lived there for a hundred years until the city was again placed within the Loden and carried back to its original location by Amberle's distant cousin and relative of the Ohmsfords' Wren Elessedil.
Long after resting peacefully in the Elven city, a shape changing demon called a Moric came through the Forbidding as part of a ritual, trapping Grianne Ohmsford in the Forbidding in its place. It usurped control of the Federation military and attempted to destroy the Ellcrys in order to free the demons in the Forbidding. Grianne's nephew Pen Ohmsford uses a special staff forged from the tanequil to send the Demon back into the Forbidding. The tanequil itself is a tree similar in nature to the Ellcrys.
The Third Ellcrys
The third and final Ellcrys to currently appear in the Shannara Chronicles was born of Arlingfant Elessedil after the death of the Ellcrys born of Amberle.
The Forgotten Ellcrys trees
In Bloodfire Quest, a chronicle of all the Ellcrys trees and their associated Elfen Women is discovered by Aphenglow Elessedil. From that, we know that there have been, in fact, additional Ellcrys trees, preceding the one before Amberle Elessedil. Details about these trees, and their Elfen women are not revealed, and nothing is known about them, apart from the fact, that they have all been members of the Omarosian/Elessedil family.