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The immortal... There was no place for Humans in his scheme of life! — "This Tree Bears Bitter Fruit" was the 47th issue of Gold Key Comics' 1967 ongoing series of Star Trek comics, written by George Kashdan & Doug Drexler and illustrated by Alden McWilliams.


Where were they spawned, these entities that thrived on devastation? Was there no way to stop them, or was it Humankind's destiny to be devoured by them? It remained for one man to find the ultimate answer!


Captain's log, stardate 67:32.4...
En route to New Paris colony, the Enterprise has encountered unusual objects!

Three plant-like pods are detected near the Enterprise, registering on Mister Spock's sensors as lifeforms of pure energy and considerable intelligence. When Captain James T. Kirk orders investigation, the pods ignore communications hailing frequencies. When Kirk orders Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu to pilot the ship closer, an energy discharge from the pods shuts down all shipboard power. Scotty's engineering station reports damage to circuitry. The pod restored the ships power only after distancing themselves.

The pods change course to Beta Niobe III, and Kirk orders the ship to follow. In order to safeguard the technologically-advanced civilization on that planet, a landing party of Kirk, Spock and Doctor Leonard McCoy beams down. Three humanoid-shaped beings made of energy emerge from the pods, disintegrating everything in their path as they move about. McCoy asserts the lifeforms are using osmosis to process the vaporized material. Kirk fires a phaser stun at one of the beings, but it destroys his phaser pistol. The beings feed for a while, but do not kill any inhabitants or harm their dwellings, and quickly depart for space.

The Enterprise pursues the beings to a class M planetoid, where the crew discover a tree sprouting hundreds of miles out from the surface that seems to be growing more of the pods.

Captain's log, supplemental:
Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock and myself have beamed down to the surface of an uncharted planetoid located in the Gamma Cygnet region of our patrol sector. We are continuing our investigation of the phenomenon pursued from Beta Niobe III!

At the base of the tree, they find Zhyopha, a humanoid claiming to be the first living being in the cosmos and the one who seeded the Tree of Life billions of years ago. He also claims the tree is ripening, with new fruit to nurture the universe. When Spock notes that evolution guides development, Zhyopha insists he controls the future of species, and as he gestures, the three energy beings appear and start draining life energy from the landing party. To save their lives, Kirk proposes a contest — one of the energy beings versus himself on an uninhabited planet — and Zhyopha accepts.

Spock selects a planet on a star chart, Zhyopha agrees to it, and soon Kirk transports to the surface. He and the energy being are swiftly assaulted by local animals. As the energy being absorbs energy, Kirk believes its need becomes greater. He invites Zhyopha to send the other two energy beings to the surface. Within a short time they have consumed every source of energy on the planetoid and grow frantic for more energy. The energy beings whither and collide, destroying each other. Zhyopha is confined by security as the Enterprise departs at warp two.



Pavel ChekovJames T. KirkLeonard McCoyMontgomery ScottSpockHikaru SuluNyota UhuraZhyophaunnamed USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) personnel (USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) personnel)

Starships and vehicles

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser)


Beta Niobe III (Beta Niobe star system; the galaxy's Alpha or Beta Quadrants) • uncharted planetoids (Gamma Cygnet region)
Referenced only
Memory AlphaNew Paris colony (New Paris)

Races and cultures

HumanVulcanspace beings
Referenced only

Science and technology

computercircuitengineeringengineering stationevolutionhailing frequencyintercomosmosisphaserphaser pistolpistolsensorSestra phaser IIspacecraftstarshiptechnologytimetransportertricordertype-2 phaser

States and organizations

FederationStarfleet (command divisionoperations divisionsciences division) • Starfleet Command

Ranks and titles

captainchief engineerchief medical officercommandercommanding officercommunications officerdoctorpilotengineerensignFederation Starfleet ranksFederation Starfleet ranks (2260s)first officerhelmsmanhorticulturistlieutenantlieutenant commandermedical practitionernavigatorofficerscience officermistertactical officerweapons officer

Other references

alienanatomyatmospherebeamcaptain's logclothingcommand chaircommunicationscommunicatorconnenergyUSS Enterprise personnelfive-year missionhelmhumanoidlife energylifeformlog entrymattermedicinenavigationplantplanetquadrantraces and culturesrankring systemsaucer sectionspacesecondary hullsharkstarstar systemstardateStarfleet uniformStarfleet uniform (2265-2270)stuntitleTree of Lifeuniformuniversewarp driveweapon


Related Stories


stardate 67:32.4, 2269 (2260s chronology, Voyages of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), Year Four)
Enterprise changes course for Beta Niobe.


  • The Enterprise's visit to a planet in the Beta Niobe system indicates this story takes place prior to the supernova of that star in this same year, 2269, as depicted in TOS episode: "All Our Yesterdays".
  • Zhyopha claims to be an immortal Human who has been growing the space beings' tree for eons, but it is not clear if he was actually that long-lived. Immortals such as Flint or Morgan Primus have been documented as having a similar ability in other sources.
  • A tree's height is limited by the laws of physics affecting how water moves from the trunk to the leaves. The tallest living tree on Earth is a 379 foot-tall redwood. To be hundreds of miles tall, the Tree of Life's biology must have been more complex than that of a normal tree, or its appearance augmented by illusion or projection. (Tree Heights article at the Northern Woodlands website)
  • Co-author Doug Drexler described his volunteer contributions to this story as a script polish and edit, including adding callbacks to the Metrons and Organians. Gold Key Comics' offices were near the Federation Trading Post where Drexler worked at that time in New York City. He also provided the creative team with reference materials. (Drawing Trek Podcast, Episode 33, 29:30-44:00)
  • This story has been translated into Dutch and German. In 2018, it was reprinted in color for the first time in English.



Gold Key Comics stories and publications
Issues "The Planet of No Return" • "The Devil's Isle of Space" • "Invasion of the City Builders" • "The Peril of Planet Quick Change" • "The Ghost Planet" • "When Planets Collide" • "The Voodoo Planet" • "The Youth Trap" • "The Legacy of Lazarus" • "Sceptre of the Sun" • "The Brain Shockers" • "The Flight of the Buccaneer" • "Dark Traveler" • "The Enterprise Mutiny" • "Museum at the End of Time" • "Day of the Inquisitors" • "The Cosmic Cavemen" • "The Hijacked Planet" • "The Haunted Asteroid" • "A World Gone Mad" • "The Mummies of Heitius VII" • "Siege in Superspace" • "Child's Play" • "The Trial of Captain Kirk" • "Dwarf Planet" • "The Perfect Dream" • "Ice Journey" • "The Mimicking Menace" • "Death of a Star" • "The Final Truth" • "The Animal People" • "The Choice" • "The PsychoCrystals" • "A Bomb in Time" • "One of Our Captains Is Missing!" • "Prophet of Peace" • "Furlough to Fury" • "The Evictors" • "World Against Time" • "The World Beneath the Waves" • "Prince Traitor" • "Mr. Oracle" • "This Tree Bears Bitter Fruit" • "Murder on the Enterprise" • "A Warp in Space" • "Planet of No Life" • "Destination... Annihilation!" • "And a Child Shall Lead Them" • "What Fools These Mortals Be.." • “Sport of Knaves” • "A World Against Itself" • "No Time Like the Past" • "Spore of the Devil" • "The Brain-Damaged Planet" • "To Err Is Vulcan" • "The Empire Man!" • "Operation Con Game"
Additional stories "James T. Kirk: Psycho-File" • "A Page From Scotty's Diary" • "Spock: Psycho-File" • "From Sputnik to Warp Drive"
Collections Star Trek Annuals (1969197019721973197419751976197719781979198019831986) • The Enterprise Logs (Volumes 1234) • The Key Collection (Volumes 12345) • Gold Key Archives (Volumes 12345) • Gold Key 100-Page Spectacular
Related media "Voyage of Discovery" • "The Exile" • "The Red Hour" • "The Tunnel of Death" • "... Wild Goose Chase!" • "A Hint of Life" • "Space Chase" • "Escape from the Clinging Dags" • "Eye of the Beholder" • "The Menace of the Mechanitrons" • "Trial by Fire!"


Published Order
Previous comic:
#46: Mr. Oracle
TOS comics (Gold Key) Next comic:
#48: Murder on the Enterprise
Previous story:
The Mimicking Menace
Stories by:
George Kashdan
Next story:
A Warp in Space
Previous story:
Star Trek Poster Books
magazine series
Stories by:
Doug Drexler
Next story:
Murder on the Enterprise
Gold Key Comics
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
Devil's Bargain
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
Crisis on Centaurus
Previous comic:
Devil's Bargain
Voyages of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), Year Four Next comic:
Crisis on Centaurus
Production history
September 1977
First published by Gold Key Comics.
1977, August
Collected as an oversized b/w in Great Britain with "Murder on the Enterprise" in Star Trek Special. (IPC Magazines)
September 2008
Included on The Complete Comic Book Collection DVD. (Graphic Imaging Technologies)
8 November 2018
Reprinted in Graphic Novel Collection #49. (Eaglemoss Collections)
Dutch: As "Deze boom draagt bittere vruchten" in the omnibus Ruimteschip Enterprise Classics Strip-Paperback #2. (De Vrijbuiter)
German: As "Der Baum des Lebens" in the omnibus Raumschiff Enterprise Comic Taschenbuch #2. (Condor)
German: As "Der Baum des Lebens" in some editions of Condor Superheiden #1: Star Trek Jahrbuch. (Condor-Verlag)

External links