Guide to The Lord of the Rings/Animals and Plants

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Plants[edit]

This is a list of all fictional plants that appear in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. Under the Species heading, only those that differ from real-world plants are included.

In Quenya, an Elven tongue devised by Tolkien, the general term for plants as distinct from animals was olvar.[1]

Species[edit]

Aeglos[edit]

A kind of shrub that grew around the hill of Amon Rûdh in Beleriand, described in the Narn i Chîn Húrin as "long-legged", sweet-smelling and creating gloomy "aisles" beneath the roof of branches.[2] Christopher Tolkien stated that aeglos was "like furze (gorse), but larger, and with white flowers";[2] he also compared it with the yellow-flowered gorse bushes said in The Lord of the Rings to have grown in Ithilien.[3] The name, shared by the spear of Gil-galad, means 'snow-thorn' in Sindarin.[4]

Alfirin[edit]

The name alfirin, apparently meaning 'immortal' in Sindarin,[5] was used by Tolkien twice. In The Lord of the Rings, Legolas sang about "the golden bells ... of mallos and alfirin" that grew in the land of Lebennin in Gondor;[6] while in the story of Cirion and Eorl it is stated that "the white flowers of alfirin" bloomed upon the mound of Elendil on Amon Anwar.[7] Christopher Tolkien surmised that in the second case the flower should be equated with the simbelmynë, which was also white-coloured and never-fading, and that in Legolas's song the reference is to a different plant.[7]

Athelas[edit]

A healing herb, called asëa aranion in Quenya and athelas in Sindarin, translated to English as kingsfoil.

According to The Lord of the Rings, it was first brought to Middle-earth by Númenóreans, but by the end of the Third Age the knowledge of its healing properties was lost among all but the Rangers of the North. In the folklore of Gondor, it was especially powerful in the hands of the King, perhaps because of the Elvish heritage of the royal House of Elendil. Athelas was used by Aragorn three times in the narrative: first, to heal the wound of Frodo Baggins done by the Witch-king with a Morgul-blade,[8], secondly after the Fellowship's escape from Moria, where the wounds of Sam and Frodo are tended and lastly after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. This time he secretly entered Minas Tirith upon his return to Gondor to heal those touched by the Black Breath, namely Éowyn, Faramir and Merry, an act that enhanced his reputation and strengthened his claim to the crown.

Athelas was also used by Huan and Lúthien to heal wounded Beren early in the Lay of Leithian (compended in The Silmarillion). This contradicts the statements in The Lord of the Rings of athelas being brought to Middle-earth by the Númenóreans, so either the conception was changed by Tolkien in later versions of his legendarium, or the herb grew in Beleriand before it was destroyed, and then was brought back by Númenóreans in the Second Age.

Kingsfoil is also mentioned in Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, as one of the herbs in the witch of Gont's hut. It is also the name of a band based in York County, Pennsylvania.[1]

Culumalda[edit]

A tree that grew at the Field of Cormallen in North Ithilien of Gondor. The name translates from Quenya as 'golden-red tree', referring to the colour of the tree's foliage.[9] Culumalda was not mentioned by J. R. R. Tolkien himself in published writings, it only appears in Christopher Tolkien's Appendix to the published Silmarillion.[9]

David Day in his A Tolkien Bestiary conjectured that the elves found culumalda reminiscent of the Laurelin, and that it was thin and tall.[10]

Elanor[edit]

A small star-shaped yellow flower, whose name means 'sun-star' in Sindarin.[11] It grew abundantly on the Cerin Amroth mound in Lothlórien together with niphredil,[12] and also in Tol Eressëa.[13] On Frodo Baggins's suggestion, Samwise Gamgee named his daughter, Elanor the Fair, after this flower.

Lairelossë[edit]

An evergreen and fragrant tree that grew in the province of Nísimaldar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] The name can be translated from Quenya as 'summer white-blossom'.[15][16]

Laurinquë[edit]

A tree with "long-hanging clusters of yellow flowers" that grew in the province of Hyarrostar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] The name is derived from Quenya laurë 'golden'.[17]

Lebethron[edit]

A species of tree that grew in Gondor. The casket in which the Crown of Gondor was kept after the death of Eärnur and before the coming of Elessar was made of lebethron,[18] as well as the walking-staves presented by Faramir to Frodo and Sam in Ithilien.[19]

Lissuin[edit]

A sweet-smelling flower from Tol Eressëa, "whose fragrance brings heart's ease." Some of these were brought by the Elves to Númenor for the adornment of a feast following Aldarion and Erendis's wedding.[13] The first part of the name apparently derives from Quenya lis 'honey',[20] being a reference to the tree's odour.

Mallorn[edit]

A huge Elven tree that grew in Tol Eressëa, Númenor and in Lothlórien. Mallorn (pl. mellyrn) is the Sindarin name of the plant, its Quenya equivalent being malinornë; both mean 'golden tree' and refer to the leaves' colour in autumn and winter.[21][14][22] The tree is most fully described in Unfinished Tales:

Its bark was silver and smooth, and its boughs somewhat upswept after the manner of the beech; but it never grew save with a single trunk. Its leaves, like those of the beech but greater, were pale green above and beneath were silver, glistering in the sun; in the autumn they did not fall, but turned to pale gold. In the spring it bore golden blossom in clusters like a cherry, which bloomed on during the summer; and as soon as the flowers opened the leaves fell, so that through spring and summer a grove of malinorni was carpeted and roofed with gold, but its pillars were of grey silver. Its fruit was a nut with a silver shale.[14]

According to the same text, mellyrn originally grew upon the isle of Tol Eressëa (and likely in Valinor also), where they were accounted to be exceptionally tall. Early in the Second Age seeds were brought by the Elves to Númenor; there the trees grew only in the westward province Nísimaldar, "reaching after five centuries a height scarce less than in Eressëa itself". Later King Tar-Aldarion presented some seeds to Gil-galad, Lord of Lindon, the westmost realm in Middle-earth; but these did not take root in his kingdom, so Gil-galad gave them instead to Galadriel. "Under her power" the mellyrn had sprouted in the land of Lothlórien, but "they did not reach the height or girth of the groves of Númenor."[14]

Tolkien stated that the original name of Lothlórien, Lórinand or the "Valley of Gold", was chosen by Galadriel with a reference to the mellyrn trees;[23] The Lord of the Rings adds that the trees became the most famous property of the realm among other peoples of Middle-earth, and the land was often known as the "Golden Wood". The Elves of Lothlórien after some time began to build their houses high upon this trees, constructing around the trunk a "flet", supported by the branches. Their main city Caras Galadhon was entirely built upon the mellyrn.[12] They were also accustomed to wrap lembas in mallorn-leaves.

The only mallorn in Middle-earth outside Lothlórien was the Party Tree in the Shire, which had sprouted out of the seed that Galadriel presented to Samwise Gamgee. Tolkien seems to imply that it did sprout only because of Galadriel's the "magic" soil that Sam had added at that spot.[24]

In his drafts for Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin, Tolkien proposed that mallorn-trees grew in city of Gondolin in the First Age; however, Christopher Tolkien noted that later writings "do not suggest, though they do not deny, that [mellyrn] flourished in Gondolin in the Elder Days."[25]

Mallos[edit]

This flower appears only once in Tolkien's writings. In The Lord of the Rings Legolas sang of it thus:

And the golden bells are shaken of mallos and alfirin
In the green fields of Lebennin.[6]

Its name can be interpreted in Sindarin as 'yellow-snow'.[26]

Nessamelda[edit]

An evergreen and fragrant tree that grew in the province of Nísimaldar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] The name apparently means 'beloved of Nessa' in Quenya.[27]

Niphredil[edit]

A white flower, whose name means 'snowdrop' in Sindarin.[28] It first bloomed in the forest of Neldoreth in Doriath at the birth of Lúthien. Together with elanor, it also grew in Lothlórien upon Cerin Amroth.[12]

Oiolairë[edit]

A tree that grew in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] It had "ever-green, glossy and fragrant" leaves and throve upon sea-air; its bough was believed not to wither "so long as it was washed with the [sea]-spray", which is the source of its name ('ever-summer' in Quenya).[13][15][29] The Elves of Eressëa used to set a branch of oiolairë upon their ships "in token of friendship with Ossë and Uinen", and they passed this tradition to the Númenóreans. When a ship of the latter departed into a long journey to Middle-earth, a woman of captain's kin was accustomed to "set upon the vessel's prow the Green Bough of Return" cut from an oiolairë tree.[13]

This bough forms an important plot detail of the story Aldarion and Erendis. According to the narrative, King Tar-Meneldur at one point refused to bless his son Aldarion's sailing to Middle-earth and forbid his kin to set oiolairë upon the ship; and Erendis won Aldarion's love by doing this instead. She set it several times later, though her love for Aldarion gradually lessened; but after a bough became frozen during one journey, Erendis disapproved completely of Aldarion's journeys. Another woman used to bless his ships for some time, until Aldarion forsook the tradition and instead placed upon the prow an image of an eagle presented to him by Círdan; by that time he had finally breached with Erendis.[13]

Pipe-weed[edit]

A variety probably of Nicotiana[30] developed by the Hobbits and used by Hobbits, Dwarves and Rangers of the North for smoking.

It is also called Halflings' Leaf; Among the Dúnedain it is known as sweet galenas. In Gondor it grows as a wild plant. There it is known popularly as westmansweed and appreciated for its sweet-scented flowers.

Pipe-weed was apparently brought to Middle-earth by Númenóreans during the Second Age, as alluded by its Gondorian name. It was first grown among Hobbits by Tobold Hornblower in Longbottom (a region in the Shire). Despite its foreign origins, the Hobbits (possibly those in Bree) were the first to use it for smoking (as the Hobbits point out, not even the Wizards had thought of that). Popular Hobbit-grown varieties of pipe-weed include Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star; its cultivation became an established industry.

The Wizard Gandalf learned to smoke pipe-weed from the Hobbits. In The Hobbit he turns smoke-rings into different colours. One palpable description of the weed's effects is given by Gandalf to fellow wizard Saruman upon a meeting of the White Council:

Yon might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger.[31]

Although Saruman initially derided Gandalf for smoking, at some point he took up the habit himself. After the destruction of Isengard, pipe-weed is found among its food stores, but the Hobbits Merry and Pippin fail to realize the sinister implications of the discovery that Saruman has had commerce with the Shire.

The Shire being based on an idealized version of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century rural England of Tolkien's childhood, it is consistent that the hobbits should be familiar with tobacco. However, Tolkien was conscious of avoiding direct use of the loanword "tobacco" (from Arawakan) in The Lord of the Rings as inconsistent with the generally "Old World"-inspired" setting of Middle-earth.[32] He does unambiguously call the plant "tobacco" in The Hobbit and The Peoples of Middle-earth.

Since the 1960s some counterculture Tolkien fans have surmised that pipe-weed is a variety of cannabis rather than a variety of tobacco. However, Tolkien, a committed tobacco pipe-smoker himself, dismissed any connection to cannabis.

Seregon[edit]

A plant with deep red flowers that grew upon the summit of the hill of Amon Rûdh in Beleriand, with the result that the hill looked as if dripped with blood.[2] The name can be translated from Sindarin as 'blood of stone'.[33] Christopher Tolkien also stated that it resembled the real-world plant stonecrop.[2]

Simbelmynë[edit]

In The Lord of the Rings, simbelmynë was a white flower that grew in Rohan primarily on the burial mounds of the Kings,[34] and most thickly on the grave of Helm Hammerhand.[35] The name, also traslated from Old English as Evermind, is a reference to the plant's blossoming during the whole of the year.

Tolkien introduced flowers with similar characteristics into his later writings. In Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin it is stated that star-shaped white flowers of uilos, "the Evermind that knowns no season and withers not", grew before the Gate of Silver in Gondolin in the First Age;[25] and in Cirion and Eorl white alfirin bloomed upon the mound of Elendil on Amon Anwar in Gondor.[7] Their names are also reminiscent of Evermind: uilos means 'everlasting snow' in Sindarin,[29] and alfirin is 'immortal'.[5] Christopher Tolkien expressedly equated them with the simbelmynë.[25][7]

Taniquelassë[edit]

An evergreen and fragrant tree that grew in the province of Nísimaldar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] The name means 'leaf of Taniquetil' in Quenya.[36]

Uilos[edit]

See simbelmynë.

Vardarianna[edit]

An evergreen and fragrant tree that grew in the province of Nísimaldar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] The plant's designation is derived from the name of Varda, one of the Valier, and Quenya rianna 'crown-gift'.[37]

Yavannamírë[edit]

An evergreen and fragrant tree with globed and scarlet fruits that grew in the province of Nísimaldar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves.[14] The name can be translated from Quenya as 'jewel of Yavanna'.[38]


Animals[edit]

This is a list of all animals that appear in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. In addition, this list encompasses several living creatures that were referred to at some point by Tolkien as being beast-shaped Maiar (angelic beings) rather than proper animals; such cases are annotated.

In Quenya, an Elven tongue devised by Tolkien, the general term for animals as distinct from plants was kelvar.[39]

Species[edit]

Craban (pl. Crebain)[edit]

A large species of crow that inhabited the land of Dunland during the Third Age. They were often used as servants and spies by various evil powers, notably Saruman. During the War of the Ring, a flock of crebain searched for the Ring-bearer.[40] Crebain "crows" would be the regular plural form of Sindarin *craban "crow," a word which (while unattested) seems to have ben adopted by Tolkien from Indo-European languages, particularly Proto-Germanic *kraban, from which descended both Old High German hraban and English raven. Also related are Latin corvus and English crow.

Fell beasts[edit]

Flying creatures that were used by the Nazgûl as steeds during the later parts of the War of the Ring. However it is believed that this is not their correct name but are simply described as "fell beasts" and therefore they would have no correct assigned name so they are generally referred to as "Fell Beasts". Tolkien describes one thus:

...if bird, then greater than all other birds... ...neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers... A creature of an older world maybe it was...[41]

A few paragraphs later it is said to attack with "beak and claw".[41]

Great Eagles[edit]

A race of eagles of outstanding size, believed to have been sent to Middle-earth and Númenor by Manwë. At different times, Tolkien proposed that they had been either Maiarin spirits or just highly intelligent animals. Gwaihir was one of the most famous of these Birds who was known for saving Gandalf, Bilbo and the 13 Dwarves in the Hobbit from Wargs and Goblins, also for retrieving Gandalf's body after his battle with Durin's bane.[42][43]

Great Spiders[edit]

In The Hobbit, it is described that a colony of sapient and over-sized spiders lived in the northern parts of Mirkwood at the end of the Third Age. The Elves of Thranduil's realm tried to exterminate them, but with no avail. During the events of the book, Thorin's company was captured by a colony of spiders and enmeshed in webs; however, Bilbo Baggins managed to free them, with the aid of his sword Sting and magic ring.[44]

The Lord of the Rings adds that these spiders were of the brood of Shelob, who in turn was a child of Ungoliant and that they inhabited southern regions of Mirkwood as well.[45] It is also suggested that the spiders first appeared after the Shadow fell on Mirkwood around TA 1050.[46] Although it is known that Ungoliant and some of the Mirkwood spiders could talk, it is unclear if they all could.

Kine of Araw[edit]

Legendary white oxen that lived near the inland Sea of Rhûn, called thus by the men of Gondor who believed them to have been brought to Middle-earth by the Vala Oromë or Araw. Vorondil the Hunter made a horn of one of these beasts into an heirloom of the Stewards of Gondor. This horn was eventually owned by Boromir and was destroyed during the War of the Ring.

The Kine of Araw have been compared to aurochs.[47]

Kirinki[edit]

One of the many species of birds found in Númenor that were not known in Middle-earth. The kirinki are said to have been smaller than wrens, with scarlet feathers and "piping voices on the edge of human hearing".[48]

Mearas[edit]

The mearas (singular mearh) were a breed of wild horses in the north of Middle-earth. Their mortality is equal to Men and their intelligence and strength are extraordinary. They surpass normal horses in the same degree that Elves surpass Men.

They descend from Felaróf, who was tamed by the first King of Rohan, Eorl the Young. Ever since, they have been the mounts of the King and Princes of Rohan alone. During the War of the Ring, however, Gandalf the Grey's friendship with Shadowfax, lord of the Mearas, led to Shadowfax allowing Gandalf to ride him at the end of the Third Age. They may be descended from Nahar, horse of the Vala Oromë.

Mûmakil[edit]

A race of animals that lived in the lands of Harad, resembling elephants but much larger and said to have been its ancestors. The mûmakil were used by the Haradrim both as beasts of burden and in warcraft, most prominently during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Wargs[edit]

A race of wolves that was particularly evil-natured and usually in alliance with Orcs. Sometimes described as "demonic wolves", they appear in The Lay of Leithian, The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. It is believed that they are afraid of Fire as Gandalf uses flaming projectiles against them when trapped with 13 dwarves and Bilbo Baggins. A flame set the Warg chiefs coat alight which sparked panic among the rest who also caught a light and ran about in blind pain.

References[edit]

  1. The Silmarillion, Ch. 2 "Of Aulë and Yavanna".
  2. a b c d Unfinished Tales, "Narn i Hîn Húrin": "Of Mím the Dwarf" and notes 14, 15.
  3. The Two Towers, IV 7 "Journey to the Cross-roads".
  4. The Etymologies, stems AYAK-, EK-, GOLÓS-.
  5. a b The Etymologies, stems LA- and PHIR-.
  6. a b The Return of the King, V 9 "The Last Debate".
  7. a b c d Unfinished Tales: "Cirion and Eorl", (iii) and note 38.
  8. The Fellowship of the Ring, I 12 "Flight to the Ford".
  9. a b The Silmarillion: Appendix, entry kul-.
  10. David Day: A Tolkien Bestiary, p. 54. ISBN 0-7537-0459-5.
  11. The Etymologies, stems EL-, ANÁR-.
  12. a b c The Fellowhip of the Ring, II 6 "Lothlórien".
  13. a b c d e Unfinished Tales: "Aldarion and Erendis".
  14. a b c d e f g h i j Unfinished Tales: "A Description of Númenor".
  15. a b The Return of the King, Appendix D.
  16. The Etymologies, stem LOT(H).
  17. The Etymologies, stem LÁWAR-.
  18. The Return of the King, "The Steward and the King".
  19. The Two Towers, "Journey to the Crossroads".
  20. The Etymologies, stem LIS-.
  21. The Index to The Return of the King.
  22. The Etymologies, stems SMAL-, ÓR-NI-.
  23. Unfinished Tales, note 5 to "History of Galadriel and Celeborn".
  24. The Return of the King, VI 9 "The Grey Havens".
  25. a b c Unfinished Tales: "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" and notes 27, 31.
  26. The Etymologies, stems SMAL-, GOLÓS-.
  27. The Etymologies, stem MEL-.
  28. The Etymologies, stem NIK-W-.
  29. a b The Etymologies, stems OY-, GOLÓS-.
  30. {The Fellowship of The Ring, Prologue: "Concerning Pipe-weed"
  31. Unfinished Tales|The Hunt for the Ring
  32. The Road to Middle-earth, T. A. Shippey p. 53
  33. The Silmarillion: Appendix, entries serech and gon-.
  34. The Two Towers, III 5 "The King of the Golden Hall".
  35. The Return of the King, Appendix A, II "The House of Eorl".
  36. The Etymologies, stem LAS1-.
  37. The Etymologies, stems RIG-, ANA1-.
  38. The Etymologies, stem MIR-.
  39. The Silmarillion Chapter 2 "Of Aulë and Yavanna"
  40. {{The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II Ch. 3 "The Ring Goes South"
  41. a b Return of The King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
  42. Morgoth's Ring, "Myths Transformed" VIII, pp. 410-12}}
  43. Morgoth's Ring, p. 138.
  44. The Hobbit|Ch. 8 "Flies and Spiders"
  45. The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"
  46. Return of the King, Appendix B}}
  47. The Science of Middle-earth: The Kine of Araw - Henry Gee, The Science of Middle-earth
  48. Unfinished Tales, "A Description of Númenor"
General references
  • J. R. R. Tolkien (2004). The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), ISBN 0-395-08255-2. The Two Towers (1954), ISBN 0-395-08254-4. The Return of the King (1955), ISBN 0-395-08256-0.
  • The Simarillion
  • Unfinished Tales
  • The Etymologies: The Lost Road, pp. 341–400

External links[edit]

  • Quenya and Sindarin wordlists at Wikitionary, which include Elvish names devised by Tolkien for real-word animals
  • Movie Horses NZ Information on the horses who worked in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy
  • Quenya and Sindarin wordlists at Wiktionary, which include Elvish names devised by Tolkien for real-word plants