I wrote a blog last year called Harry Potter and the Kingdom of the Plants (catch it here if you want to). Today I’m going to do a similar thing and look at 3 plants in the Lord of the Rings! Of course “potatoes” are mentioned in the story, yknow those lovely golden chips! That was the topic of this weeks 6 in 60, if you fancied reading a bit more about those then have a look here.
After the great battle at Isengard, Merry and Pippin celebrate the win with pipe weed! It’s also what Gandalf uses to blow all those rings. But what is pipe weed, well, in the hobbit it is referred to as tobacco. The tobacco plant is pretty well known here, there and everywhere and rightly so as it does have some interesting properties. Tobacco has been smoked in pipes for a long time but there are loads of ways that it can be consumed. Tobacco contains a high concentration of the chemical nicotine. You probably knew that anyway but nicotine can regulate mood as well as improve cognitive skills, it comes with a whole host of negative side affects like becoming addicted (as merry and pippin might well be), and being a carcinogen but if you’re a wizard are you really going to worry about cancer! Who knows?
Simbelmynë if you couldn’t recall is the little white flower that grows on the graves of the kings of Rohan. It is described as a white flower with 5 points, hmm what could that be.
Well after lots of searching around over the internet I have found something of that description. In the film they created their own flower for the graves, although
they could have used the flowers of Stephanotis floribunda. These white flowers have often been a favourite with bridal bouquets and have a very sweet smell, this could perhaps mask the scent of a fresh grave? However these flowers belong to an evergreen woody climber native to madagascar, so perhaps not the best fit.
Athelas in the land of middle earth is a healing herb. Frodo is given it when he is stabbed by the morgul blade. It’s properties are said to be calming and provides relief from pain. Now there are quite a few different plants that have been used for pain relief. One that springs to mind is willow as from willow bark asprin was made. There are also a handful of herb species with painkiller like properties including ginger, tumeric and arnica. Although perhaps a good doppelgänger for Athelas is a plant called Devils Claw. Although native to south africa it can be found in open woodlands and has been used for centuries as pain relief as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
I think I’ll leave the topic of Ents for a whole different blog post so instead I shall conclude this with one of Tolkein’s quotes on plants:
“I am (obviously) much in love with plants and above all trees, and always have been; and I find human maltreatment of them as hard to bear as some find ill-treatment of animals”
Me too Tolkein, me too.