The tree, which appears to be a large baobab tree, appears in every movie, as well as most merchandise inspired by The Lion King. It gained the Tree of Life name on the 2003 DVD release of the film for its resemblance to the Disney's Animal Kingdom park icon. Rafiki is often seen performing various shamanistic tasks there. The trunk of the tree is shown to be covered in paintings, including depictions of Simba, Kiara, and Kovu, all of which were made by Rafiki.
This tree is a tall and thick African baobab tree. Its leaves are always green, as it hadn't been affected at all during Scar's reign. It resides some distance from the Pride Lands and could've been Rafiki's place of origin.
Early in the first film, when it is heavily raining, Rafiki is seen drawing a picture of Simba on the tree's trunk. When he hears of Mufasa and "Simba's" deaths later on in the film, he smears the painting with his hand. However years later, while at the top of his tree, Rafiki smells Simba's scent through some dust and discovers that Simba is actually still alive. He then restores the smeared picture of Simba on the trunk, using red fruit juice to add a mane to show Simba's maturity.
The Tree of Life is seen in all four of the Rafiki Fables episodes and the episode "Rumble in the Jungle". In the episode, "Once Upon a Timon”, Zazu flies to Rafiki at his tree, informing him about Simba's reputation as king being in jeopardy and about Timon and Pumbaa's background. Rafiki tells Zazu about Timon's backstory, and after finishing the story, Simba is seen lying on a branch, hearing the story. Rafiki's Tree is shown to have a room with stairs and shelves on the walls. In "Rafiki's Apprentice", Rafiki makes his nephew Nefu fill the shelves with gourds. In "Rumble in the Jungle", the shelves are now filled with voodoo dolls. Rafiki and his tree also make cameos in "Mozam-Beaked".
In the second film, Rafiki is seen at his tree, having a conservation with Mufasa's spirit while painting pictures of Kiara and Kovu's maturity. While talking to Mufasa, the wind blows a fruit on his tree and breaks apart, symbolizing to Rafiki that Mufasa wants Kovu and Kiara to be together. Rafiki objects to the notion at first, but he later agrees to it, hoping Mufasa knows what he is planning.
While Timon is traveling to find his place, he stops and cries beside Rafiki's tree. Rafiki suddenly appears while hanging from his tree. Rafiki teaches the meerkat about "Hakuna Matata”, and if he wants to find his dream home, he must "look beyond what he sees." The tree is not seen afterwards.
Rafiki's tree makes occasional appearances in the series, which takes place after Return of the Roar. All of Makini’s lessons are held there.
In the 2019 reimagining of the classic film, Rafiki appears quietly observing fireflies just as Rafiki sees a couple of bugs on his tree to which Rafiki places a caterpillar on the tree followed by a few more beetles on it. He then blows some powder to complete a painting of Simba. Later after hearing of what Scar said about Mufasa who died in the stampede along with Simba who perished, he sadly smears the painting with his hand, sad to hear about what happened to Simba. Rafiki's tree is later seen again where a tuft of Simba's mane is carried by one of the leafcutter ants which bring it to him to which Rafiki then realizes that Simba is alive just as he draws a mane on the painting of Simba. Later when Simba returns to the Pride Lands with Nala, Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, Rafiki returns to his tree to grab his bakora staff to help Simba fight against Scar and the hyenas.
- Rafiki's tree resembles a baobab tree, a kind of African tree known for its huge, fat, massive trunk.
- In a deleted scene from The Lion King 1½, Timon and Pumbaa, in Rafiki's tree, look at Rafiki's pictures of Simba's presentation and Simba's defeat over Scar. Disappointed that there are no pictures of them, Timon talks to the audience, telling them that no one knows their side of the story. Later, Timon draws a picture of himself with Pumbaa, to Rafiki's dismay, who finds them drawing on his tree and he furiously chases the duo, swinging his staff at them.
- It makes a cameo in the Timon & Pumbaa episode, "Beast of Eden”.
- The tree also served as the inspiration for the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
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