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Hornbeam the Ironwood is the Head of the Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology and a member of the Board of Department Heads. He and the Sunflower Official co-founded the Organisation. He is one of the Firstborn and, as a Tree, he is also one of the longest-living Plants.


Hornbeam is ent-like in his mannerisms and outlook, regarding humans and Flowers as "hasty" creatures and taking his time with thoughts and decision-making. He has even been known to say hoom on the odd occasion. His mental voice is a deep bass rumble. He is often absent from his department, as he has a tendency to go on long walks in thought and become lost.[1] This is one reason many agents assume Makes-Things, the head technician, is the head of department. However, Hornbeam is very knowledgeable about technology, fictional or otherwise. New recruits to the department should not be surprised to find themselves stumped by one of his interview questions.


His office is in room 2659. It has sixty-foot-high double doors with a six-foot-tall neon sign proclaiming the room number mounted above. A normal-sized door is built into the left-hand door. The office itself is at least seventy feet tall with walls fifty feet apart. Hornbeam keeps a large desk and some chairs in the room for the use of visitors.



Hornbeam began life as an ordinary tree on the world of Origin. When the black hole at the centre of the star system gave off several bursts of strange energy, he Awoke in the second pulse.[2] He engaged in mind-altering communion with the other Flowers awoken by the second pulse, and after their discovery of words, deduced the changes which language had brought to the Flowers' minds.[2]

Hornbeam became the leader of the Engineers of Origin,[3] and it was his team that first discovered how to stabilise and map plotholes.[3] When the Sunflower Official founded the Organisation, Hornbeam became the head of the new Department of Infrastructure, with authority over technical and supply matters.[4]

When the Organisation became the PPC, his department was relabelled as the Infrastructure Division. Hornbeam led the Department of Technology.[5] The first human to fall into Headquarters appeared in his laboratory, through one of his plotholes,[5] and this same human—now known as Makes-Things joined the Department of Technology.[5]

Board of Flowers[]

During the Reorganisation, Hornbeam became a member of the newly created Board of Department Heads. He remained a member into the second and third incarnations of the Board.[6]


  • The Reorganisation, Chapter 8
    • The SO consults with Hornbeam about a way to find his missing assassins.
      • Hornbeam appears in several other chapters, and takes part in the reorganisation of the PPC, taking a spot on the newly formed Board of Department Heads.
  • Origins
    • Hornbeam's role in the founding of the PPC.