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Plants of Middle-Earth: 2. Part One: A to L

Alder. Alnus spp. A small, rapidly-growing deciduous shrub or tree. It bears catkins that ripen into tiny "false-cones" which hang on the twigs for several years, and make alder easily recognizable.

Few alder species grow very tall, but A. glutinosa, the black alder common in Europe, may reach 20 metres and live for up to 150 years.

Alders are a pioneer species that invade and thrive in gaps caused by fire or clear-cutting. They tolerate water-logged conditions very well, and are usually found along streams or in marshes and bogs. However, they need full sunlight and in natural conditions are often out-shaded by larger trees.

Alder wood resists decay under water, and so is often used in building boathouses and other waterside structures.

Alfirin. A yellow, bell-shaped flower that grew on the fields of Lebennin in southern Gondor (LR 5.9).

Anemone. Also called Crowfoot, Windflower, Wood Anemone. Anemone nemorosa. A flowering herbaceous perennial with deeply-cut leaves. The colour of the star-shaped, six-petalled flowers varies; the inner surfaces of the petals are white, while the outer have a flush of rose or violet. Anemones bloom in early spring, usually March.

Wild anemones prefer moist, shaded woodlands. Several species have tall, slender stems bearing one large flower, which the lightest breeze sways – hence the name windflower. The blooms close in overcast or rainy weather and at twilight.

Anemones grew in Ithilien (LR 4.7).

Asëa Aranion. See Athelas.

Asphodel. Also called King's Spear, Royal Staff. Asphodelus ramosus. A perennial flowering wild plant about 1 metre tall, which forms clumps of long, flat, narrow leaves. In late spring and early summer, it bears thick stems of star-shaped, white flowers.

Asphodel's natural habitat is central and southern Europe, particularly the shores of the Mediterranean. In ancient Greece, its flowers were regarded as the food of the dead and often planted near tombs.

Asphodel grew in Ithilien (LR 4.7).

Medicinal Use: Diuretic. Said to be useful in menstrual obstructions and as an antispasmodic. The bruised root has been recommended for rapidly dissolving scrofulous (swollen glands in the neck due to tuberculosis) swellings.

How to prepare: The roots must be gathered at the end of the first year.

Scientific evidence: None cited

Comment: "The Greeks and Romans used them in several diseases, but they are not employed in modern medicine".

Source: Botanical.com


Ash. Fraxinus spp. A tall (up to 45 metres), straight, deciduous tree with a long silvery grey trunk. The ash tree leafs from its distinctive black buds late in spring and sheds its leaves early in fall. The leaves are pinnate, meaning that leaflets grow in opposite pairs from a central stem, with a single one at the tip. It bears flowers that develop into winglike seeds called "keys."

Ash trees prefer valley bottoms and stream sides, but need full light at all times and cannot grow where they are overshadowed by other trees. They may live for four centuries or longer.

The spears of the Rohirrim were made from ashwood (LR 3.2) – the English word ash is derived from aesc, Anglo-Saxon for spear. Since ashwood is known for burning even when green, it is also an appropriate choice for the staff of Gandalf (LR 3.6), who was the bearer of Narya, the Ring of Fire.

Medicinal Use: Bark has been used, in decoction, extensively in the treatment of intermittent fever and ague. The decoction is odourless, though its taste is fairly bitter. It has been considered useful to remove obstructions of the liver and spleen, and in rheumatism of an arthritic nature.
The leaves have diuretic, diaphoretic and purgative properties, and are employed in modern herbal medicine for their laxative action, especially in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints.

How to prepare: Decoction of bark. Infusion of leaves 1 OZ. to the pint, may be given in frequent doses during the twenty-four hours.

Scientific evidence: None cited

Source: Botanical.com


Athelas. Also called Kingsfoil, Asëa Aranion. A healing herb once prized by the Númenoreans, now unknown to most except the northern Dúnedain. Old folk in Gondor still used an infusion of it to treat headaches. It grows only in places where the Númenoreans lived or camped in the past (LR 1.12, 5.8).

Bay Tree. Also called Bay Laurel, Laurel, Noble Laurel, Sweet Bay, True Laurel. Laurus nobilis.

A slow growing, evergreen shrub or tree with shining, dark green leaves that are thick, smooth, and fragrant, with a wavy edge. Small yellow male and female flowers bloom (on different trees) in mid to late spring. The female flowers develop into black berries.

The bay tree flourishes in full sun, but it will grow in the shade of other trees as well. It is native to the Mediterranean region and prefers warm climates; it is not hardy in northern latitudes. While normally small, the bay tree can grow to 6 metres or more where winter temperatures stay above -5 Celsius (roughly 20 F) and under the best conditions it may reach 18 metres.

Whole bay leaves, fresh or dried, are used in cooking, and they contain an essential oil that is sometimes used in manufacturing perfumes. The sweet-scented wood is occasionally used for inlay work.

In Classical Greece and Rome, the bay tree was sacred to Apollo. It symbolized victory and merit, and was used in wreaths for winners of the Olympic Games, heroes and poets.

Bay trees grew in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Beech. Fagus spp. A tall (up to 40 metres) and broadly spreading deciduous tree with smooth, olive-grey bark. The leaves emerge relatively late but grow very thickly, and are slow to fall and then to decay. The slow-rotting leaves and the dense shade prevent undergrowth from growing in beech forests. Beeches are relatively short-lived trees, seldom surviving more than 250 years.

The beech requires a thoroughly drained soil, and accordingly flourishes on high ground. Its leaves turn beautiful red and gold colours in autumn.

The beech was particularly beloved of the Silvan Elves, and Thranduil's kingdom in Mirkwood was set in a beech-wood (Hobb. 8). Probably the most famous beech-forest in Middle-Earth was Neldoreth, in the hidden kingdom of Doriath. Hírilorn, the tree in which Lúthien was imprisoned by her father, was a great three-trunked beech in that forest (Q. Silm. 19).

Medicinal Use: The tar is stimulating and antiseptic, used internally as a stimulating expectorant in chronic bronchitis, or externally as an application in various skin diseases.

How to prepare: Beech tar is completely soluble in 95 per cent. acetic acid (concentrated vinegar).

Scientific evidence:None cited.

Source: Bontanical.com


Birch. Betula spp. A deciduous tree with distinctive pale grey or white bark marked with dark horizontal lines and blotches. It bears seed catkins simultaneously with its leaves in the spring.

Birches are typical "pioneer" trees that colonize bare land. They are short-lived, lasting about 60 years at most. They prefer dry sandy soils and can grow at higher altitudes than most other deciduous species.

The bark of birch trees is easy to peel from the trunk in sheets and remains pliable even when dry. It has often been used as a writing material, to fashion containers and baskets, and (in North America) as the outer skin of canoes and other watercraft.

The Sindarin word for this tree, brethil, gave its name to a forest in Beleriand (Q. Silm. 14).

Medicinal Use: The young shoots and leaves secrete a resinous substance having acid properties, which, combined with alkalies, is said to be a tonic laxative. The leaves have a peculiar, aromatic, agreeable odour and a bitter taste, and have been employed in the form of infusion (Birch Tea) in gout, rheumatism and dropsy, and recommended as a reliable solvent of stone in the kidneys. With the bark they resolve and resist putrefaction. A decoction of them is good for bathing skin eruptions, and is serviceable in dropsy. The vernal sap is diuretic.

The oil is astringent, and is mainly employed for its curative effects in skin affections, especially eczema, but is also used for some Internal maladies.
The inner bark is bitter and astringent, and has been used in intermittent fevers.

Scientific evidence:Known toxin.

Overdose causes: "Very toxic orally, methyl salicylate can be absorbed through the skin, resulting in human fatalities. As little as 4, 700 mg can be fatal in children" (Leung, 1980).

Comments: 4,700 mg sounds like a lot, but is about 1/7th of an ounce. Have your healer stay away from this one.

Sources: Bontanical.com. Toxic information from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index


Blackthorn. Also called Sloe. Prunus spinosa. A hardy and thorny deciduous shrub that grows up to 15 feet high, often forming impenetrable thickets. It is common in hedges and scrub growth throughout Europe and produces masses of small white flowers in late winter to early spring, long before any leaf buds have opened.

The blackthorn's small, plum-like fruits are called "sloes" and are too bitter to eat until after the first frost. Blackthorn wood was often used for walking-sticks.

"Deep brakes of thorn and sloe" grew to the north of the Emyn Muil (LR 2.9).

Cedar. Cedrus spp. Tall (30 m or more) evergreen conifers originally from the Himalayas and Near Eastern mountain ranges. Most cedars are neatly cone-shaped in youth, gradually spreading and becoming more flat-topped as they age. The bark is silvery gray and fissured. The needles are produced in thick clusters on very short stems, and the flowers bloom early in fall when the golden pollen-bearing cones are most noticeable. It takes 2 years for the seeds to completely ripen, after which the cones fall to pieces

Many other conifer species are also commonly referred to as cedars, so Cedrus species are sometimes qualified as "true" cedars.

Cedarwood is oily, sweet-scented and very durable. The scent of it wards off attacks from insects; clothing stored in closets or chests made of this wood will be safe from moths.

Cedar grew in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Celandine. Ranunculus ficaria. Also called Figwort, Lesser Celandine, Smallwort. [NB: The English name is applied indiscriminately in old herbals to both Chelidonium majus and Ranunculus ficaria, although they have little in common besides the colour of the flowers. As the celandines Tolkien describes were "folded for sleep", they were most likely the Lesser Celandine, since its blossoms (like those of the Anemone) shut before rain and in the evening.]
A perennial herbaceous plant, with shiny dark green leaves arranged in a low-growing, loose rosette. Celandine is one of the earliest of spring wildflowers; its starlike, glossy yellow flowers bloom in February or March. However, most of its life is spent underground in the form of small tubers. By the end of May or early June, flowering is finished, and all of the foliage above ground dies back until next year.
Celandine is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America. It prefers the edges of damp woodland, hedgerows and riverbanks, but it will also grow in drier areas beneath the shade of trees.

Celandines grew in Ithilien (LR 4.7).

Medicinal Use: Astringent. This herb is an old remedy for piles (hemorrhoids). Also sore throat.

How to prepare:The whole herb is collected in the wild state, while in flower in March and April, and dried. Internally, the infusion of 1 OZ. in a pint of boiling water is taken in wineglassful doses… For sore throat 'Take a pinte of whitewine, A good handful of Sallendine, and boile them well together; put to it A piece of the best Roach Allome, sweeten it with English honey, and use it.'

Scientific evidence:None cited.

Comments:Most species of Ranunculus "are acrid, and before the introduction of Cantharides (Spanish Fly), many, especially R. sceleratus , were used as vesicatories. They are said to act with less pain and without any action on the urinary passages, but their action is supposed to be uncertain, and they are accused of frequently leaving ill-conditioned ulcers. Since the introduction of Cantharides, their employment has therefore fallen into disuse." "Formerly it was not at all uncommon for beggars to produce sores about their bodies by the medium of various species of Ranunculus, for the sake of getting alms, afterwards curing these sores by applying fresh Mullein leaves to heal them."

Sources: Bontanical.com


Clover. Also called Trefoil. Trifolium spp. A short-lived perennial or biennial groundcover, with several creeping stems growing from one root and compound leaves consisting of three leaflets. The globe-shaped, white or red-purple flowerheads are made up of 30 to 70 tiny single flowers. They are fragrant and attract bees.

Clover is abundant throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle, in meadows, roadsides, fields, pastures and any open ground. It is often planted for bees, but also occurs as a weed or wild growth.

The white variety (T. repens) is the best bee plant. The red variety (T. pratense) is generally more upright and taller, with larger leaflets and flowers.

Sweet Clover (Melilotus sp.) is a much taller biennial plant also cultivated for livestock forage or honey production. It bears small white or yellow flowers, crowded densely on the top 10 cm of a long stem, and is a member of the pea (legume) family rather than a true clover.

Clover grew in fields near the Carrock, and Beorn's bees fed on it (Hobb. REF).

Medicinal Use: The fluid extract of Trifolium is used as an antispasmodic. Infusion for bronchial and whooping-cough. Poultices of the herb have been used as local applications to cancerous growths. Asthma; Bronchitis; Cancer Prevention; Indigestion; Menopause; Whooping Cough.

How to prepare:1 drachm of fluid extract, 1 to 2 drachms of infusion. An infusion may be made by 1 oz to 1 pint of boiling water. 3-6 g dry flowers 3x/day.

Scientific evidence:None cited.


Cornel. Also called Cornelian Cherry, Dogwood. Cornus spp. A deciduous, flowering shrub or small (up to 20 feet) tree.

C. mas or mascula is a species native to Europe. It produces abundant yellow flowers in late winter or early spring, and large, red, edible fruits that make excellent preserves due to their high pectin content. Its leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall.

Cornel shrubs have been cultivated since ancient times for their fruit, particularly in Central Europe. Its dense and fine-grained wood was used to make arrows in pre-historic Europe.

Cornel grew in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).


Cypress. Also called Common Cypress, Italian Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress. Cupressus sempervirens. A tall (20-30 m) evergreen conifer with scaly, dark green leaves. The bark is thin, smooth and gray while young, later becoming gray-brown and furrowed. Cypress grows in straight, upright columnar or conical shapes. Cones may remain unopened on the tree for many years until a fire induces them to open and subsequently to shed viable seed.

Due to the ancient horticultural history of this species in the Mediterranean region, its original native distribution is unclear. Various authorities attribute its origin to Greece, Turkey, Crete, northern Iran, Lebanon, or Syria. Currently, it can be found growing cultivated or naturalized in the Mediterranean region and throughout warm north temperate regions worldwide. Cypresses tolerate a wide range of soils, except wet ones, and several varieties will even grow in shallow, alkaline soil. They are long-lived (up to 1000 years).

Since ancient times the cypress has symbolized mourning; more recently, it has also come to symbolize immortality. Its resinous and durable wood is valued for its sweet fragrance. It is also widely used in contact with soil (e.g. for fenceposts) because of its resistance to decay.

Nomenclature for these trees can be extremely confusing. Many kinds of cypress are incorrectly called cedars, because their wood is as aromatic as that of the true cedars, Cedrus spp; and many members of the genera Juniperus and Thuja are incorrectly called cypress, because of the resemblance of the leaves.

Cypress grew in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Elanor. A small, yellow, star-shaped flower which grew in Lothlòrien. The name means "sun-star" in Sindarin.

Sam and Rosie Gamgee gave the name of this flower to their firstborn child (LR 6.9).

Elm. Also called English Elm. Ulmus procera. A tall (from 25 to 45 metres) deciduous tree, instantly recognizable by the toothed, dark green leaves which are rough above and soft and hairy below. The bark is corky and grey, and scored by deep vertical furrows in older trees. Elm seeds, which ripen in the spring, are round with small flanges.

English elm grows in an upright, oval configuration with many small twigs at the top giving it a lacy, open appearance. An elm tree may live for up to 500 years.

Elmwood does not decay when immersed in water. It was formerly used to make water pipes and troughs and for sea defenses.

The Wych elm (U. glabra) is a typical hedgerow tree in the British Isles.

Fir. Also called Silver Fir, European Fir. Abies alba. Tolkien may also have used the word "fir" to describe the Scots Pine; see Pine. A tall (46 metres) evergreen conifer with a long clear trunk surmounted by a pyramidal crown that becomes flat-topped with age. The bark is grey and scaly, with resin blisters. Because its needles have pale undersides, the tree has a silvery colour when seen from below, from which it takes its name.

The fir is native to the mountains of southern and central Europe; it prefers fresh, moist soils at higher altitudes.

Many people are confused by the names pine, spruce, and fir. A brief primer on how to tell the types of conifers apart: pines produce long, slender needles in bundles of two to five; spruce needles are short and square; fir needles are flat, short and arranged in two rows on either side of the twig. Spruce needles will easily roll between your fingers; fir needles, which are flat, will not.

There was a small fir-wood just outside Hobbiton (LR 1.3). Firs grew between Moria and the borders of Lórien (LR 2.6), to the north of the Emyn Muil (LR 2.9), and on the slopes behind Dunharrow (LR 7.3).

Medicinal Use: Infusion of the bark was used as a tonic and to treat stomach ailments, Tuberculosis, hemorrhoids and various minor complaints.
The pitch, or resin, was also used to treat colds, coughs, sore throats, sore nipples, and is a antiseptic and healing agent, analgesic, and a protective covering for burns, bruises, wounds and sores.It is considered antiscorbutic, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. A warm liquid of the gummy sap was drunk as a treatment for gonorrhea.

A tea made from the leaves is antiscorbutic. It is used in the treatment of coughs, colds and fevers. The leaves and young shoots are best harvested in the spring and dried for later use.

Scientific evidence:None cited

Overdose causes: Purgative

Sources: Bontanical.com


Furze. See Gorse.

Gorse. Also called Furze, Whin. Ulex europaeus. This prickly evergreen bush blooms with bright yellow flowers all year round in temperate climates, but the flowers are most abundant in spring and early summer. It can be anywhere from ankle-height to three metres tall, but in exposed areas it tends to hug the ground and spread widely while remaining less than a metre tall.

Gorse grows on grasslands, the edges of heaths, and woodland margins. Many species of birds live and feed within the safety of gorse bushes.

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum spent a night camped within a large clump of gorse in Ithilien (LR 4.7).

Medicinal Use: '…some have used the flowers against the jaundice.' An infusion of the blossoms used to be given to children to drink in scarlet fever.

Also 'the seeds are employed in medicines against the stone and staying of the laske' (laxness of the bowels).'" Old writers also tell us that 'sodden with honey, it clears the mouth' and that it 'is good against snake-bite.' It had an old reputation as an insecticide: 'Against fleas, take this same wort, with its seed, sodden; sprinkle it into the house; it killeth the fleas.'

Scientific evidence:None cited

Sources: Bontanical.com


Grapes. See Grapevines.

Grapevines. Vitis vinifera. A perennial, woody climbing vine which bears clusters of yellow, green, red, or purple fruit.

Vineyards require a temperate climate (between 20 and 50 degrees latitude) and a sheltered, warm, sunny location. For this reason, they tend to be planted on south-facing slopes, since the cold air that the fruit needs protection from will sink to the valley bottom.

During the winter months, while the vines are dormant, they are pruned back almost to the main stem. In late May or early June, the vines begin to flower. (An early flowering usually signals a very good quality vintage.) The harvest starts in mid-August in warm areas, late September in the coolest ones.

The grapevine is not directly attested to in Tolkien's writings, but can be inferred from the presence of wine. Notable wine-producing areas included Dorwinion (Hobb. 9) and the Southfarthing of the Shire (LR 1.1).

Hawthorn. Also called Whitethorn, May, May-apple. Crataegus spp. A deciduous shrub or tree with sharp, long thorns. They are rarely over 7 metres tall and often grow with multiple stems. Hawthorn flowers are usually white, but occasionally pink or red; they bloom in May and have a unique, powerful, and (to most people) unpleasant scent. The red or orange fruit, called "haws," are a source of food for many birds during the winter.

Hawthorns grow moderately fast and have a lifespan of about 30 years.

Hawthorn is a colonizer of disturbed soil, including pastures and old farm fields. The English hawthorn (C. oxyacantha) has been used for field hedgerows in the British Isles for centuries.


Medicinal Use: Cardiac, diuretic, astringent, tonic. Mainly used as a cardiac tonic in organic and functional heart troubles. Both flowers and berries are astringent and useful in decoction to cure sore throats. A diuretic used in dropsy and kidney troubles. Antianginal; Antiarrhythmic; Cardiotonic; Coronary Vasodilator; Preventative.

Angina; Arrhythmia, Cardiovascular Insufficiency, High Blood Pressure.

How to prepare:Fluid Extract of Berries, 10 to 15 drops.

Scientific evidence:None cited.

Sources: Bontanical.com


Hazel. Corylus spp. A small (up to 8 metres) deciduous tree, usually with multiple stems. It bears large, drooping, bright yellow catkins in very early spring. Fertilized flowers develop into the clusters of nuts which ripen and turn brown in October.

Hazel is hardy and moderately shade-tolerant; it is often found as an undergrowth plant in oak and ash forests.

Hazel stems split and twist easily and were used to make woven fencing panels for hundreds of years. To ensure a steady supply of hazel rods, bushes were coppiced (cut back to ground level) every 7 to 15 years so that new, straight growth would spring up from the base.

As a naturally-growing tree, its maximum life span is about 60 years, but when coppiced regularly it can survive for six centuries, producing a good crop of poles every few years.

Hazel grew in the Shire near Woodhall (LR 1.3) and in the wilderlands near Rivendell (LR 1.12).

Heath. Erica spp. See also Heather. These two species are similar in appearance and are often confused or given the same common names.

Heath grew on the Firienfeld in Dunharrow (LR 7.3).

Heather. Also called Ling. Calluna vulgaris. See also Heath. A small, hardy, evergreen shrub with spikes of tiny purple or white flowers that grows on mountains and moors. In the northern part of its range it blooms from June to August, in the southern part from August to November.

Honey from bees fed on heather is famed, and heather was used in brewing ale before the introduction of hops to the British Isles.

Heather grew on the fells and moors around Rivendell (LR 1.12).


Hemlock. Also called Herb Bennet, Poison Hemlock, Poison Parsley. Conium maculatum. [NOTE: Do not confuse with the North American evergreen tree known as the Hemlock (Tsuga sp.) .] A tall (0.9 to 2 m) biennial plant with a smooth, hollow, bright green stem that is mottled with small irregular wine-red spots. The leaves are pinnate, dull green and toothed. The small, white flowers are arranged in a broad compound "umbel," or umbrella-shaped bunch composed of small flowerets on individual stems extending from a common terminal stalk. They bloom in July and August.

It grows in disturbed ground where moisture is adequate, such as by streams and in ditches, hedgerows, and neglected meadows throughout Europe (except the extreme north).

Every part of this plant, especially the fresh leaves and fruit, contains an extremely poisonous alkaloid - a few drops are fatal to a small animal or child. Hemlock juice was the fatal poison which Socrates was condemned to drink, and some indigenous North Americans used hemlock toxins as a poison for arrow-tips.

Hemlock grew in the Old Forest (LR 1.6), and in the land of Doriath in Beleriand (LR 1.11).

Holly. Ilex spp. A short (approximately 15 metres) broadleaf evergreen tree which bears dark green, spiny leaves and red berries that are an important food source for many birds. The bark is smooth and pale grey.

Holly is shade-tolerant, and common in oak and beech woods as undergrowth.

It was especially abundant in the land of Eregion or Hollin west of the Misty Mountains, which took its name from this tree (LR 2.3).

Medicinal Use: "Holly leaves were formerly used as a diaphoretic and an infusion of them was given in catarrh (colds), pleurisy and smallpox. They have also been used in intermittent fevers and rheumatism for their febrifugal and tonic properties…" Also used for jaundice. They have been employed in dropsy(congestive heart failure); also, in powder, as an astringent to check bleeding. "The bark and leaves are good used as fomentations for broken bones and such members as are out of joint."

Scientific evidence:None cited.

Comments:The berries are said to cause violent vomiting and diarrhea, even after only a few berries.

Sources: Bontanical.com


Holm Oak. Also called Ilex, Holly Oak. Quercus ilex. At first glance, this resembles an enormous holly tree, but its leaves, though evergreen, leathery, and dark, are not prickly, and it bears dark brown acorns. The main stem usually divides into several large stems a few feet above ground level.

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum spent a night sleeping in one such tree in Ithilien (LR 4.7).

Ilex. See Holm Oak.

Iris. Also called Bearded Iris, Flower de Luce. Iris spp. A family of hardy perennial flowering plants with sword-like, narrow and flat leaves. The flowers are made up of three upright inner petals (called standards) and three out- and downward-curving sepals (or falls). Wild irises are usually purple, white, or yellow, but cultivated varieties come in a dazzling variety of colours.

The wild yellow iris (I. pseudacorum) is called flag, yellow flag, or water flag. It is found on riverbanks, by the side of lakes and ponds, in ditches and in any moist, shady place.

The dried, powdered root of some varieties of iris (particularly I. florentina) is known as orris. It has the power of strengthening the odour of other fragrances and is used as a fixative in perfumery.

Irises grew thickly in the marshes called the Gladden Fields (LR REF), from which they took their name (glaedene is the Old English word for yellow flag), and in Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Medicinal Use: "rarely employed in medicine at the present time". "The fresh root possesses diuretic, emetic and cathartic properties. The drug was formerly employed in the treatment of bronchitis and chronic diarrhoea, and was considered a useful remedy in dropsy."

How to prepare:The internal dose is stated to be from 5 to 15 grains.

Scientific evidence:None cited.

Overdose causes: nausea, vomiting, purging and colic.

Comments:"Pieces of the dried root are occasionally chewed for the purpose of overcoming a disagreeable breath."

Sources: Bontanical.com


Ivy. Hedera spp. An evergreen vine that climbs by means of root-like tendrils. When an ivy plant reaches the top of its support, it stops producing these tendrils and grows out into a more bushy form. The leaf shape also changes at that point, from five-lobed and angular to oval. Ivy bears greenish-yellow flowers in round clusters in the fall. The pea-sized berries, dark purple or black, develop during the winter and provide many birds with food.

Contrary to popular wisdom, ivy does not crumble masonry or walls that it grows on. However, it will injure trees by sucking nutrients out of the trunk through its tendrils.

Ivy is an emblem of fidelity, possibly because of its tenacious and clinging nature. A bush of ivy hanging over the door indicated an inn or tavern in medieval England; The Ivy Bush was "a small inn on the Bywater road" (LR 1.1) patronized by Hamfast Gamgee. Ivy grew in Mirkwood (Hobb. REF) and on the cliffs to the north of the Emyn Muil (LR 2.9).

Medicinal Use: An old source says that the decoction restrains dysentery, and that the yellow berries are good for those who spit blood and against the jaundice.

How to prepare:Decoct a drachm of the flowers wine.

Scientific evidence:None cited.

Sources: Bontanical.com


Kingsfoil. See Athelas.

Laburnum. Also called Golden Chain Tree, Golden Rain Tree. Laburnum anagroides. A flowering shrub which grows up to eight metres tall.

The wild laburnum is indigenous to the higher mountains of Europe, but it has been cultivated for centuries for its flowers, which appear early in the spring in long, drooping, yellow clusters. All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the long green seed pods and black seeds.

Laburnum appears to have been known as a garden plant in the Shire, since Bilbo compares Gandalf's fireworks to it (Hobb. 1).

Larch. Larix decidua. A tall (25 to 30 metres) conifer tree, unusual because it is deciduous with soft, light green, narrow leaves. One of the first trees to grow leaves in spring.

The European larch is indigenous to the Alps and prefers mountainsides. It grows rapidly and can live for 150 to 200 years.

Larch trees do not cast heavy shade, so that larchwoods may have agreat deal of undergrowth. The wood is extremely resistant to water, so much so that it was once used for water pipes.

Medicinal Use: "Stimulant, diuretic, astringent, balsamic and expectorant. As an external application it has been found useful in chronic eczema and psoriasis. It has been used "as a stimulant expectorant in chronic bronchitis…" Its action is that of oil of turpentine. It has also been given internally in haemorrhage and cystitis.

How to prepare:Of B.P. Tincture Laricis, 20 to 30 minims. Venice Turpentine.

Scientific evidence:Known to be a toxin.

Overdose causes: Inhalation exposure to turpentine may include irritation of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and upper respiratory tract; salivation, cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath; confusion, headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, painful urination, bloody urination, or decreased urine output. The signs and symptoms of turpentine ingestion include a burning sensation in the mouth and throat; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain; excitement, confusion, ataxia, stupor and seizures; fever; and increased heart rate.

Comments:I’d stay far away from anything with turpentine. It is a toxin, both orally and by inhalation.

Sources: Bontanical.com, Toxicology information from OSHA health guidelines.


Leaf. See Pipe-weed.

Lily. See also Water Lily. Lilium spp. Perennial flowering bulbs, both wild and cultivated. Like the rose, the lily is a flower with a history stretching back to the beginning of time. It has been cultivated for hundreds (if not thousands) of years and now comes in a dizzying variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Wild lilies are usually either trumpet-shaped or turban-shaped. They may bloom at any time from mid-spring to early fall depending upon the variety. [NB: Many plants that have Lily as part of their common name are not Lilium varieties (e.g. daylilies are from the family Hemerocallis).]

Wild lilies are natives of temperate woodlands in the Northern Hemisphere; therefore, although they need full sun, they do not like dry heat. They are usually found growing near low-growing plants that shade their roots and help keep the bulbs cool and moist.

The tiger lily (L. lancifolium), originally native to Japan and China and now cultivated worldwide, is the most well-known wild lily. Its bright red or orange-red flowers covered with dark speckles are borne in late summer atop tall (1.2 to 1.4 m) stems.

Lilies were cultivated in Shire gardens, including Bilbo's (Hobb. 1). Lilies grew wild in Ithilien (LR 4.4), and white lilies grew in Lebennin in southern Gondor (LR 5.9).


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Last Update: 30 Dec 09
Stories: 4
Type: Reader List
Created By: Elena Tiriel


Non-fiction works about topics useful to writers.

Why This Story?

Useful information about Middle-earth flora.

 

Story Information

Author: Forodwaith

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/20/03

Original Post: 08/02/02

Go to Plants of Middle-Earth overview