This probably won't help you, but...
If you happen to be using Oracle or DB2, those databases have SQL extensions to do tree structured queries, based on a table like you describe.
The syntaxes are radically different, so your best bet is to look it up in your database documentation. For Oracle the keyword is "CONNECT BY", and for DB2 the keyword is "WITH".
Here's a nice overview: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/sqlpr/chapter/ch01.pdf
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