Seeking a short story I read in a collection at least 5 or 6 years ago, can't trace the name or origin. Please help! Here's what I remember:

Race of sentient trees (looks like a normal forest to us). One way they communicate is by changing the colour of their leaves. One is taken by the humans and kept on earth, thinks of itself a bit like a diplomat, but it takes the humans about 50 years to realize the colours don't change randomly and the tree is aware. Only other things I remember are the aliens think of our redwood forests as extremely special needs versions of themselves - cousins basically, stunted and broken by their location (they are not sentient, too).

  • 2
    Is it one of these? scifi.stackexchange.com/…
    – Molag Bal
    May 19, 2017 at 23:36
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    – Edlothiad
    May 19, 2017 at 23:46
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    No, I've gone through every post on here that mentions trees. Nothing comes even a little close.
    – Crys
    May 21, 2017 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


This is very probably one of the Hlutr short stories (I think it is called "Diplomat") in the anthology The Leaves of October by Don Sakers. It's one of my favorite collections.

The stories were originally published individually in magazines like Analog, and later joined together by a common linking story for the anthology.

Selected pages from the book are available on Google books. Communication by the leaves changing colour is just the first of the three languages the Hlutr use. The second language is through the rustling of the leaves and the third language is a form of telepathy called The Inner Voice.

There are several references to the giant redwoods, for example on page 60:

Often I have contemplated the infinitely sad story of the Redwoods, often I have wondered at their stunted lives: only a shadow of what they could be, what their distant ancestors had been; blind, dumb, all but deaf; hearing only the barest echoes of the Inner Voice, while all around them ranged the awesome and beautiful symphony of the Hlutr singing each to the others.

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    Yes yes yes! Thank you so much!
    – Crys
    May 22, 2017 at 20:23

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