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In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the trio sees Professor Sprout carrying bandages and Harry also notices the Whomping Willow's branches in slings. We also know from future books that the tree has a specific knot that needs to be pressed by someone small and limber (Pettigrew in his rat form/Crookshanks) to paralyse the tree. So, how did Sprout manage to paralyse the tree long enough to bandage it?

2 Answers 2

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Wingardium Leviosa.

I am not aware of a canonical answer, but based on what we see in the books, the above charm seems a good candidate.

Ron needed to get under the tree in Deathly Hallows, and like the OP, his first thought was he could do with a small, intelligent animal to press the knot for him. Hermione helped him by paraphrasing a question he'd asked her years before: "Are you a wizard, or what?" Ron then used a Hover Charm to make a stick touch the knot and stop the tree moving.

As a herbologist, Sprout might well have been aware of other ways to tame a Whomping Willow, but she almost certainly also knew about the knot on this specific tree. The Hover Charm is basic magic, and would probably be the easiest way for her to make the tree manageable.

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    > "she almost certainly also knew about the knot on this specific tree." I'll go one up on that: what if she created the knot? Such a knot didn't likely come to exist on it's own; some witch or wizard surely created it. I'd bet it was originally done explicitly for Lupin's use at full moons during this time as a student. The Harry Potter fandom wiki says Sprout overlapped as a student with McGonagall, and came back to teach relatively soon after graduation, which places her back at the school when Lupin was a student. Sep 22, 2023 at 20:25
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We learn in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mysteries that a judiciously applied freezing charm will prevent a young Whomping Willow from attacking while you bandage it.

I think we can assume that a powerful and experienced wizard can cast a sufficiently powerful charm as to temporarily disable even an adult willow.

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    Remus Lupin uses this charm (Immobulus!) on the Whomping Willow in the Prisoner of Azkaban film. Sep 23, 2023 at 15:00

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