Note: This puzzle is fairly easy. While I can't stop more seasoned or high-rep users from answering, I would appreciate it if it were left to newer members of the Puzzling community. Thank you!

After you finally finished busing all of your tables, you decide it's probably about time to head home. On your way, you decide to walk through the park, and you find an exquisite specimen of Abies Gemebundus, a less dramatic and less deciduous cousin of the Weeping Willow, native to the area around your home town of Enigmopolis. At the base of the tree you notice a tarnished plaque that has certainly seen better years. After cleaning it the best you can, the title is still illegible:

The Plaque

While the title and part of the text have rusted away, you copy down the readable portion:

This tree was planted by----------------1589. He
is most remembered for the-------------ethod named
after him, though in fact it was first used some thirty-
three years before he first published the method. Legend
has it that he carved an incoherent message around the
trunk of this tree, and when asked about it only replied:
"I am the key".

Intrigued by the mention of an incoherent message, you glance around the base of the tree, looking for the carvings. Eventually, you realize that, if it's as old as the plaque says, the carving would have to be higher up. Climbing the first couple limbs, you find letters forming a loop around the trunk, with an arrow carved above an "o":


Just like last time, you have three questions, and would like an answer and an explanation for all three:

  1. What method was used to encode the message on the tree?
  2. What does the message on the tree say?
  3. What was the title on the plaque before it rusted away?
  • $\begingroup$ I think I'm close but I'm confused about (rot13: gur lrne, fvapr ivtrarer yvirq va gur fvkgrragu praghel)... am I on the right track? $\endgroup$
    – dooog
    Apr 4, 2018 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ @dooog Absolutely right (V jnf syvccvat orgjrra frireny Jvxvcrqvn negvpyrf rneyvre naq zhfg unir tbggra fbzr qngrf pbashfrq...) $\endgroup$
    – DqwertyC
    Apr 4, 2018 at 22:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "Eventually, you realize that, if it's as old as the plaque says, the carving would have to be higher up." That's not how trees work. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2018 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @dooog Fixed the date. $\endgroup$
    – DqwertyC
    Apr 4, 2018 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Acccumulation While trees mostly grow out from the trunk, they do also grow up, albeit at a much slower rate. $\endgroup$
    – DqwertyC
    Apr 4, 2018 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


Question 1:

Vigenère cipher with "VIGENERE" as the key

Question 2:

"this is a vigenere cipher and it will go on forever because" and it will go on forever because it makes a circle and the length of the message is a multiple of the length of the key.

Question 3:

The species name of the tree translated to "Sighing Fir" so the plaque said "Vigenère Sigh-Fir"

  • $\begingroup$ I suspect it says rot13(Ivtrarer'f Fvtu-Sve). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Apr 4, 2018 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ Fixed the date (I had too many Wikipedia tabs open at once and just plopped the wrong date down originally). $\endgroup$
    – DqwertyC
    Apr 4, 2018 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Thank you, I am apparently quite dense since I practically wrote the answer in my speculation. $\endgroup$
    – Barker
    Apr 4, 2018 at 22:21

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