White Tree of Gondor
The White Tree is the symbol for Gondor. When Arwen makes Aragorn his war banner, she embroiders “a white tree flowered upon a sable field beneath a shining crown and seven glittering stars”. So the white tree represents Aragorn’s hereditary right to the throne of Gondor. But the White Tree doesn’t just symbolize Aragorn’s family or the health of Gondor in general. It also represents the link between the Men of Númenor (from whom the people of Gondor are descended) and the origins of Middle-earth in the lands of the Utter West and the Blessed Realm of the Valar (the Lords and Ladies who have made Middle-earth).
Meneldil son of Anárion, who had been left to govern Gondor for Elendil proclaimed himself as the sovereign King of Gondor in III 2, not wanting to acknowledge the claims of 13-year old Valandil to high kingship. Meneldil adopted the winged crown as the symbol of his reign in memory of his father, who wore winged helmet at the siege of Barad-dûr where he fell. The winged crown was added between the white tree and seven stars in his personal flag, which was subsequently adopted by most of Gondor’s monarchs.
First White Tree
The first White Tree of Gondor came from a fruit that Isildur, at great personal risk, managed to steal from Nimloththe Fair, the White Tree of Númenor, before that one was destroyed at Sauron’s insistence. He suffered many wounds at this mission, and he came near death, but when the first leaf opened in the spring, Isildur was healed of his wounds.
Second White Tree
In the T.A. 2, Isildur planted the seedling of the White Tree in Minas Anor in memory of his brother, Anárion. This White Tree lasted until T.A. 1636, when the Great Plague hit Gondor, killing among many others King Telemnar and his children.
Third White Tree
A third sapling was planted in T.A. 1640 by King Tarondor and died in T.A. 2872 with the death of the Ruling Steward Belecthor II. Since no seedling was found, it was left standing after its death. When eventually replaced in T.A. 3019, it was placed in the Tombs of the Kings with royal honors.
Fourth White Tree
When Aragorn became king he discovered a sapling of the White Tree upon the slopes of Mindolluin, high above the city, which he reverently planted in its place. The return of the White Tree to Minas Tirith proves that Aragorn has restored Gondor’s former glory as the home of the Men of Númenor. Sauron, a servant of the original Great Enemy who destroyed the Two Trees in Valinor, has been driven permanently from Middle-earth.
The White Tree of Gondor stood as a symbol of Gondor in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith. Pippin comments on how the tree is dead. It signifies the nonexistance of a true King of Gondor.