We give an elementary and direct combinatorial definition of opetopes in terms of trees, well-suited for graphical manipulation and explicit computation. To relate our definition to the classical definition, we recast the Baez–Dolan slice construction for operads in terms of polynomial monads: our opetopes appear naturally as types for polynomial monads obtained by iterating the Baez–Dolan construction, starting with the trivial monad. We show that our notion of opetope agrees with Leinster's. Next we observe a suspension operation for opetopes, and define a notion of stable opetopes. Stable opetopes form a least fixpoint for the Baez–Dolan construction. A final section is devoted to example computations, and indicates also how the calculus of opetopes is well-suited for machine implementation.