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yolkboy

There are No Lemon Trees in Braavos (questioning Dany's childhood)

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ETA.... while this premise was 'onto something', a decent conclusion was only reached in-thread. To save reading through the thread i have summarized the most plausible conclusion here....

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/87889-there-are-no-lemon-trees-in-braavos-questioning-danys-childhood/page-15#entry5572179

Throughout the books, Dany thinks of the one place she was truly happy.

"That was when they lived in Braavos, in the big house with the red door. Dany had her own room there, with a lemon tree outside her window"


This place is supposed to represent the lost notion of 'home' for Dany. However, there's one problem...

There are no lemon trees in Braavos.

Lemons are now cultivated widely and freely in our World, due to advances and needs, but in medieval times, in the western World, lemon orchards were cultivated only in Mediterranean areas. The lemons could be preserved to be sent afar, and even frozen. This explains how, in Westeros, we see lemon cakes in Winterfell and lemon slices at the frozen Wall. However, lemon trees only grow in the correct climate - and the only correct climate in Westeros is likely to be Dorne.

Anguy and Sharmas' conversation highlight this point, when considering if he can have lemon with his duck supper:

“Hang this,” she said, handing him the duck. Anguy shuffled his feet. “We were thinking we might eat it, Shama. With lemons. If you had some.”
“Lemons. And where would we get lemons? Does this look like Dorne to you, you freckled fool? Why don’t you hop out back to the lemon trees and pick us a bushel, and some nice olives and pomegranates too.”


No other places are mentioned to be growing citrus, and whenever we're in Dorne we're continuously reminded of citrus smells in the air, oranges, lemons etc.

Dorne has two things vital for lemon trees. Copious sunshine, and fresh water irrigation.

"Beyond a line of stony hills the grass grew greener and more lush, and there were lemon orchards watered by a spider’s web of old canals."


Braavos has neither the sunshine, nor the freshwater needed to grow lemon trees.

Braavos is a collection hundreds of Islands sitting at sea level in a vast lagoon. The purity of the water and soil is a problem - there's a big chance it could be very infertile for plant and tree growth in general. Also, the canals are not freshwater like in Dorne, Sam has to boil it before drinking (indicating likely brackish water).

"the water from the lagoon is brackish, briny and unfit for drinking".


GRRM reminds us again and again, via Arya and Sam, that trees rarely grow in Braavos. The soil could be poisonous to most plant-life, and lemon trees are far more demanding than a standard tree. There's no grass!

Braavos, devoid of grass and trees
...
They have no trees, she realized. Braavos is all stone, a grey city in a green sea.
...
In the forest, they see all. but there are no trees here
...
"There's no more wood." Dareon had paid the innkeep double for a room with a hearth, but none of them had realized that wood would be so costly here. Trees did not grow on Braavos, save in the courts and gardens of the mighty."

ETA - see a much better conclusion put forth in the in-thread discussion

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/87889-there-are-no-lemon-trees-in-braavos-questioning-danys-childhood/page-15#entry5572179

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Huh. That's odd.

ETA: Regarding your theory, if Dany has never seen a lemon tree, how can she picture it? Or has she seen one?

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"There's no more wood." Dareon had paid the innkeep double for a room with a hearth, but none of them had realized that wood would be so costly here. Trees did not grow on Braavos, save in the courts and gardens of the mighty."

Sounds like the house with the red door belonged to someone important.

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"There's no more wood." Dareon had paid the innkeep double for a room with a hearth, but none of them had realized that wood would be so costly here. Trees did not grow on Braavos, save in the courts and gardens of the mighty."

Sounds like the house with the red door belonged to someone important.

Well I've considered that, but what puzzles me here is the weather... like i said, if they can cultivate lemon trees in Braavos, they could do it almost anywhere south of the neck. And that doesn't seem to be happening, save Dorne, a completely different climate/humidity than Braavos.

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Or perhaps she was in Dorne the whole time, and is the Mummer's Dragon herself. The real Daenerys is somewhere else! She was fake bait for assassins.

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Well I've considered that, but what puzzles me here is the weather... like i said, if they can cultivate lemon trees in Braavos, they could do it almost anywhere south of the neck. And that doesn't seem to be happening, save Dorne, a completely different climate/humidity than Braavos.

Braavos seems to have its shit together better than Westeros though.

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Most likely is just that GRRM hadn't fleshed out Braavos and it was an oversight.... not every inconsistency is a grand conspiracy.

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Nice catch. Either GRRM has made a mistake or there's something bigger going on here. GRRM when talking about sansa's 'Unkiss' mentions that not all character's memories are to be believed. Who knows what reveals he has in store.

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Braavos seems to have its shit together better than Westeros though.

don't you think it's strange that GRRM went to some trouble to keep highlighting that there we almost no trees in Braavos, and Dany's favourite memory of Braavos is a tree thats very hard to cultivate?

Braavos, devoid of grass and trees

...

They have no trees, she realized. Braavos is all stone, a grey city in a green sea.

...

In the forest, they see all. but there are no trees here

...

"There's no more wood." Dareon had paid the innkeep double for a room with a hearth, but none of them had realized that wood would be so costly here. Trees did not grow on Braavos, save in the courts and gardens of the mighty."

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You can grow plants and they can thrive even when outside their natural/ideal environment. A lemon tree could be planted and grow in Minnesota, but it's not like one could expect success with an entire orchard of lemon trees. It takes a lot more work and care, but in a house of a wealthy person, that's very doable.

Re: armchair psychology - if I recall correctly, Dany has this dream where she is the dragon and she's going down a hallway trying to reach the red door. She never gets to it.

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You can grow plants and they can thrive even when outside their natural/ideal environment. A lemon tree could be planted and grow in Minnesota,

I did some research before i posted, and what i read indicated that lemon trees were confined to Mediterranean regions in days of old. Only when technology/methods and understanding increased were we able to grow them away rfom their natural environment. And does Minnesota have poisonous soil like Braavos seems to? Also, why are there only lemon trees in Dorne, when the rest of Westeros could be at it?

i could be wrong.

Like i said to Stannis, seems weird that GRRM kept highlighting that there we almost no trees in Braavos, and Dany's favourite memory of Braavos is a tree thats very hard to cultivate.

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I honestly think the Lemon-tree thingie is just a slip.

Even Jon Snow in his pov thinks about using glass-houses to cultivate in. (I know that´s not a courtyard, but it means the idea of creating conditions for southern plants isn´t completely new in asoiaf).

HOWEVER, I completely agree with you that Dany is repressing something.

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Do lemons have any symbolism attached in the greater scheme of things? I know peaches, onions and apples, all have some siginificance throughout the text.

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I honestly think the Lemon-tree thingie is just a slip.

But GRRM goes out of his way to explain that freshwater canals are giving Dorne it's lemon tree growing abilities. Then underlines the water and tree situation in Braavos. This seems to co-incidental to be a slip, IMO

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This lack of trees…how can Braavos build a warship in a day if it doesn't have many trees? To build boats, you need wood obviously.

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This lack of trees…how can Braavos build a warship in a day if it doesn't have many trees? To build boats, you need wood obviously.

Maybe they buy from the North, by the way of White Harbor?

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Wait, I thought that massive aqueduct supplied Braavos with water. Why is there a need to boil it?

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Banana trees grow in Oklahoma, even though they have no business being there.

Why??

Because people consciously make the decision to grow them. It doesn't require a viable lumber industry. We grow palm trees, because people wrap them when it drops below freezing on occasion.

Also, Braavos might be like Europe, with the Gulf Stream making it warmer than it has any business being, given the latitude.

Europe shares water with the Caribbean, and Essos might share water with Ulthos. All it takes is a conscientious gardener to make the Lemon tree work in Braavos.

GRRM has alligators in the neck, ffs, this is fantasy, after all.

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Do lemons have any symbolism attached in the greater scheme of things? I know peaches, onions and apples, all have some siginificance throughout the text.

Lemons are linked to Sansa's cakes - naivete and innocence. Also, the lemon tree is outside, Dany is inside, so she is separated from her innocence and perhaps longs to be outside and free, like the lemon tree.

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