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Plants of Middle-Earth: 3. Part Two: M to Z

Mallorn. The famed golden-leaved, grey-barked trees of Lothlòrien. Although deciduous, their leaves remained on the boughs through the winter and fell in the spring just before new ones emerged. They also bore golden flowers in the sping.

Mallorn trees are native to Valinor; they came to Numenor as gifts of the Elves and from thence to Middle-Earth brought by Numenòrean refugees. [NB: Still looking up this reference, I believe it's in HOME somewhere.] The only mallorn outside Lothlòrien was the famous Party Tree of the Shire, the seed of which was a gift from Galadriel to Sam Gamgee (LR 6.9).

Although in English they are usually referred to as mallorns, the Elvish plural is mellyrn.

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

Nettle. Also called Stinging Nettle. Urtica dioica. A perennial plant that reaches about 1m tall. Its heart-shaped, toothed leaves bear stinging hairs. The green flowers grow in long, branched clusters from June to September.

Brush your hand across a nettle leaf and you'll get an attack of pins and needles - a sharp, hot, itching sensation thanks to an irritating fluid contained in the leaf-hairs.

Nettle stems have long cellulose fibers that can be woven into fabric in the same way as flax or hemp. When cut and dried, nettles make excellent feed for livestock. The fresh green leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach, or made into soup or tea. (The sting is not present in cooked or dried plants.) There are many folk and homeopathic medicinal uses for nettles.

Nettles grew in the Old Forest in the Burning Glade (LR 1.6).

Oak. See also Holm Oak. Quercus spp. A large group of hardy deciduous trees and shrubs with distinctive lobed leaves and seeds carried in little caps, or acorns. Male flowers are borne in long drooping catkins; the inconspicuous female flowers are the ones which ripen into acorns.

The English Oak (Q. robus) can develop into huge spreading trees up to 40 metres high and may easily live for more than a thousand years. These slow-growing trees have wide root systems and are good at resisting riverbank erosion.

Oakwood is especially strong and durable. It was traditionally used for the roof lumber of public buildings (churches, cathedrals, etc.); for paneling and doors; and in shipbuilding. The roots were often used to make hafts for daggers and knives.

The chemical tannin produced from oak bark is used to tan leather, and acorns were formerly used as feed for pigs, or even (in hard times) dried and ground to make flour for human consumption.

The oak is a symbol of nobility, strength, and endurance. Thranduil's staff was made of oakwood (Hobb. 9).

Pine. Scots Pine. Pinus sylvestris. This tall (40 metres) evergreen is the only native British pine. A distinctive characteristic of this tree is its scaly, bright orange-red bark, often seen on the upper trunk and branches. Its needles are long (3 to 4 centimetres) and very dark blue-green. Most conifers maintain a conical shape throughout their lifespan, but the Scots Pine develops a spreading crown in its middle age, especially when growing in the open rather than in dense woodland.

The Scots Pine does not flourish in very exposed situations, sea winds, or high rainfall. It prefers light and sandy soils at low to moderate elevations. It is extremely frost-hardy and grows quickly when young. It typically lives about 150 years, but 300 is possible.

Pinewood has been the standard utility timber of northern Europe for generations; it is easy to nail and work, fairly strong, and light-weight. Scots Pines were also once tapped (like rubber trees) for their resin, which was used for glues and turpentine.

Pines grew on the heights about Rivendell (Hobb. 3; LR 1.12, 2.3), on the eastern side of the Misty Mountains (Hobb. REF), and on the slopes of the Dwimorberg in Rohan (LR ?).

Medicinal Use: . "Its oil, extracted from the leaves, is added to disinfectants and other preparations. Scots pine leaves, taken internally, have a mildly antiseptic effect within the chest, and may also be used for arthritic and rheumatic problems. Essential oil from the leaves may be taken for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and for digestive disorders such as wind. Scots pine branches and stems yield a thick resin, which is also antiseptic within the respiratory tract. The seeds yield an essential oil with diuretic and respiratory-stimulant properties. Externally in the form of liniment plasters and inhalants."

How to prepare:Oil of Turpentine. Spirits of Turpentine, B.P., 2 to 10drops. As a vermifuge, 2 to 4 drachms.

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

Source: Bontanical.com. Toxicology information from OSHA health guidelines.

Pipe-weed. Also called Leaf, Sweet Galenas. Nicotiana sp. A tender, thick-stemmed annual bearing large leaves which are dried and smoked through pipes. Hobbits from Bree seem to have been responsible for inventing and popularizing this practice.

Young plants are usually started in beds in early spring and moved to the field after all danger of frost is over. Growth in the field from setting to harvest takes 3 to 5 months.

Harvesting is done by hand, removing mature leaves at roughly weekly intervals. The leaves are then dried using heat, smoke, or just air. Each process imparts a different flavour to the dried leaf.

The best-known varieties of pipe-weed (including Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star) came from the Southfarthing in the Shire.

Merry Brandybuck wrote a treatise on Herblore in the Shire in which he states his belief that pipe-weed "came northward from the lower Anduin … brought over Sea by the Men of Westernesse. It grows abundantly in Gondor, and there is richer and larger than in the North, where it is never found wild" (LR Int.).

Primerole. See Primrose.

Primrose. Also called Primerole (from Old French). Primula spp. A small flowering herbaceous perennial. The oval leaves are arranged in basal rosettes, and the pale yellow, five-petalled flowers have a darker yellow centre. Primroses flower during April and May, but in sheltered spots during mild winters they can often be found during January.

P. vulgaris is the wild species, which is abundant in woods, hedgerows, pastures and on sunny grassy slopes throughout Great Britain and much of Europe. Cultivated, hybrid primulas of various colours already formed a significant component of English gardens during Elizabethan times.

Primroses grew in Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Medicinal Use: Antispasmodic, vermifuge, emetic, astringent.
From Florahealth: " Primula is primarily used for respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and coughs, as it has decongestant and phlegm thinning and loosening properties. It was popular in folk medicine and was believed to treat headache and nerve pain, as well as shaking and dizziness related to vascular weakness, although the validity of these claims has not been proven. The tea was traditionally recommended as a vascular tonic for sensations of dizziness and vascular insufficiency. Primrose root was taken for whooping cough, acute breathing disorders, bone and joint pain and stiffness, and nerve pain. In homeopathic medicine, primrose is prescribed for skin conditions. Primula leaf juice was also traditionally used for treating acne.
Primula flowers can be taken as an infusion or in tinctures. The German Commission E recommends one to two teaspoons of dried primrose flowers or one teaspoon of the plant's dried root as a respiratory remedy for laryngitis, bronchitis, colds and coughs. The flowers and root are particularly recommended for dispelling catarrh of the respiratory tract - thick mucous that is difficult to move without a tea or other medicine. New studies using bioassays show that Primula veris has potential anxiolytic activity, and based on a study using chicks, Primula botanical extract may be useful in modulating anxiety states without causing sedation."

How to prepare: Infusion 1.5-3 teaspoons (2-4 g) of cut and dried flowers daily. Pour 5 oz (150 ml) of boiling water over the cut and dried flowers and steep 10-15 minutes, then strain. Drink hot infusion several times a day, especially in the morning and before bed. May sweeten with honey. 1 Teaspoon = 1.3 g.

Primrose flower tincture is recommended with the daily dosage of 1.5 to 3 grams (about 0.25-0.5 teaspoonfuls); tincture prepared according to the German Erg. B 6 is recommended with the daily dosage of 2.5-7.5 grams. Primrose root is recommended with the daily dosage of 0.5 to 1.5 grams. As an expectorant, a cupful of the root infusion, sweetened with honey, is drunk every two to three hours. 1 teaspoon = ca. 3.5 grams. According to the German Commission E, primrose root tincture is recommended with the daily dosage of 1.5 to 3 grams, but other sources say up to 7.5g or about 1.5 teaspoonfuls.

Scientific evidence: Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 119-120; 181; 373. Rodale Press. Articles in: Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals.

Overdose causes: May cause stomach upset, nausea and diarrhea. Skin reactions may occur for those allergic to Primula. The roots are not to be taken with aspirin as they are high in salicylates.

Sources: Botanical.com, Florahealth.com

Rockrose. Also called Sunrose. Could be any of several species of the families Cistus or Helianthemum. However, since Tolkien mentions that the flowers were yellow, it is most likely to have been the Common Rockrose, Helianthemum nummularium, a small (0.5 metre), semi-evergreen, flowering shrub with stems covered in a grey-white down or fuzz. The small yellow flowers appear in June, usually in loose spikes of 3 or 4.

Rockroses prefer chalky (limestone) soil and undisturbed grassland, especially on dry, sunny slopes.

Species of the Cistus genus bear pink or white flowers; otherwise, their growth habit and preferred environment are similar to those of the Helianthemum genus.

Rockroses grew on the eastern slopes of the Misty Mountains (Hobb. REF).

Rose. Rosa spp. A family of prickly perennial flowering shrubs. Roses have been genetically manipulated for so many centuries that it is impossible to give a brief description that would apply to all types. They may be any colour from pure snow white to deep red-black, and grow on climbing vines 10 metres high, or on small shrubs less than 1 metre. Roses produce cherry-sized, red "hips" as fruit after the flowers have died.

Wild roses bloom in June with five-petalled flowers, usually pale to deep pink, although white or yellow varieties also occur.

Rose hips contain very high amounts of vitamin C and were dried and kept as a winter food source by many indigenous nations of North America.

Ioreth refers to the "roses of Imloth Melui" (LR 5.8), a region of Gondor. Wild roses grew in Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Medicinal Use: In olden days, Honey of Roses was popular for sore throats and ulcerated mouth. Cloths or linen rags are soaked in Rose Vinegar and are then applied to the head for headache caused by hot sun.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the rose was esteemed as a remedy for depression. The essential oil, called "attar of rose", is used in aromatherapy as a mildly sedative, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory remedy. Rose petals and their preparations have a similar action. They also reduce high cholesterol levels. Rosewater is mildly astringent and makes a valuable lotion for inflamed and sore eyes. Aromatic, antidepressant, sedative, anti-inflammatory.
Ointment of rose-water, commonly known as Cold Cream , enjoys deserved popularity as a soothing, cooling application for chapping of the hands, face, abrasions and other superficial lesions of the skin.

How to prepare:Honey of Roses is prepared by pounding fresh petals in a small quantity of boiling water, filtering the mass and boiling the liquid with honey. Rose-water, 1 to 2 OZ. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion acid, 1/2 to 1 OZ. Syrup. Rose Vinegar is prepared by steeping dried rose petals in best distilled vinegar, which should not be boiled. The British Pharmacopceia preparation of ointment of rose water - 1 1/2 OZ. each of spermaceti and white wax be melted with 9 OZ. of Almond oil, the mixture poured into a warmed mortar and 7 fluid ounces of rose-water and 8 minims of oil of Rose then incorporated with it.

Scientific evidence: There is good evidence for antibacterial activity for Rose species. A few articles - Arch Pharm Res 2002 Dec;25(6):860-4 "Antimicrobial activity and chemical composition of some essential oils."; J Ethnopharmacol 2002 Nov;83(1-2):73-7
"Screening seeds of Scottish plants for antibacterial activity."

Also some evidence for antianxiety properties - Life Sci 2002 Nov 22;72(1):91-102 "Anticonflict effects of rose oil and identification of its active constituents."

And evidence for antioxidant effects - Life Sci 2002 Jan 18;70(9):1035-40 "Comparison of the total antioxidant content of 30 widely used medicinal plants of New Mexico."

Sources: See above

Rowan. Also called Mountain Ash, Quick Beam, Service Tree, White Beam. Sorbus spp. A hardy deciduous shrub or tree (not related to the "true" ash, Fraxinus) which bears pinnate leaves and flat-topped clusters of white flowers, followed by brilliant orange or red berries. The maximum height is about 16 metres.

Rowans prefer mountain slopes and hillsides where they are not overshadowed by other trees. They may live for a century or more.

The rowan is one of the most revered plants in European folklore; it was believed to ward off evil influences and witchcraft. Western Fangorn Forest was noted for its beautiful stands of rowan trees, many of which were destroyed by Saruman's forces before the downfall of Isengard (LR 3.4).

Sage. (Salvia spp.) A large genus (over 700 species worldwide) of both hardy and tender perennials, annuals, and shrubs. Sages usually grow 0.1-1m high in branched clumps. The oval or spear-shaped leaves are set in pairs on the stem, often greyish-green in colour and covered in soft hairs. The flowers bloom on spikes above the foliage and may be white, blue, or all shades of red, purple, and pink. They are found wild in South America, southern Europe, northern Africa and North America. All parts of the sage plant have a strong, spicy odour and a warm, bitter taste due to the volatile oils they contain.

The common herb called Garden Sage (S. officinalis) is a hardy perennial with gray-green foliage. It is native to Europe and Asia Minor, but has been cultivated elsewhere for many centuries. The fresh or dried leaves are used to season foods and for their antiseptic and astringent properties. Sage was also often used to treat various gastrointestinal disorders.

Sages grew wild in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Seregon. See Stonecrop.

Simbelmynë. Also called Evermind. A small white flower that grew thickly on the burial mounds outside Edoras in Rohan (LR 3.6).

The Westron name, Evermind, is a direct translation of Anglo-Saxon simbelmynë.

Sloe. See Blackthorn.

Snapdragon. Antirrhinum majus. An annual garden plant, named for the flowers' supposed resemblance to the jaws of a dragon. It grows in spikes (from 15 cm to 1.2 m tall, depending on the variety) covered with buds that open in order from the bottom to the top. Snapdragons come in every colour but blue, and flower best in full sun or light shade.

Snapdragons seem to have been one of Bilbo's favourite flowers; they grew in his garden at Bag End (LR 1.1), and he uses them as a simile when describing Gandalf's fireworks (Hobb. 1).

Stonecrop. Also called Seregon. Sedum spp. A herbaceous perennial with succulent (i.e. fleshy) foliage. Cultivated sedums vary widely in foliage, flower, and growth habit. The wild varieties are small plants with tiny star-shaped flowers, pink or yellow in colour. They grow best on rocky, dry, and sunny sites.

A red variety of stonecrop called seregon ("blood of stone") in Sindarin grew on the peak of Amon Rudh, the hill where Turin's hidden fortress as an outlaw was located (Q. Silm. 21). This is probably related to the species of stonecrop known as Dragon's Blood (S. spurium), which in addition to red flowers has striking dark crimson stems and foliage.

Stonecrop also grew in Ithilien (LR 4.4) and on the head of the kingly statue at the Minas Morgul crossroads which the Orcs had thrown down (LR 4.7).

Sweet Galenas. See Pipe-weed.

Tamarisk. Also called Salt Cedar, Sea Cypress. Tamarix spp. deciduous shrub or tree (2-8 m tall) native to Asia and southeastern Europe. Its dense branches are covered with minute, scalelike leaves. Its buds open in February and the tree flowers from March until September.

Tamarisks grow along floodplains, riverbanks, stream courses, salt flats, marshes, and irrigation ditches. They often form pure thickets that extend for miles.

Tamarisks are long-lived (50-100 years) and can withstand lengthy drought periods by shedding their leaves and halting growth.

Tamarisk grew in Ithilien (LR 4.9).

Terebinth. Also called Turpentine Tree. Pistacia terebinthus. A small deciduous tree native to the Mediterranean. Its reddish-purple flowers appear between March and April in close compound clusters. The small, brown nutlike fruit are brown when ripe.

Terebinth is found growing on dry rocky slopes and hillsides or in pine forests, from just above sea level to 1200m.

When undisturbed, terebinth trees reach a very large size and can live up to one thousand years. They also develop a deep and extensive root system and therefore remain green even in years of drought.

The terebinth probably yielded the earliest-known form of turpentine, said to have been used in medicine by the ancient Greeks. The large reddish galls often found on its bark are used for tanning leather.

Terebinth grew in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Thistle. Also called Thrissil. Carduus sp., Cirsium sp., Onopordon sp. A large group of annual, biennial, and perennial plants - usually considered weeds - with many-lobed, prickly leaves. The soft, silky flower-heads are usually pale purple or pinkish-purple in colour. They form large, downy seed balls after the blossoms wither.

Thistles grow in fields, meadows and wastelands, along roadsides, and in hedgerows. They are found not so much in barren ground as in good ground not properly cared for, and can be a major problem in grass crops. If left unchecked, they may monopolize a large area to the extinction of most other plants, as they have done in parts of the American prairies.

Except for the spines, thistles are quite edible. Livestock will eat them after the plants are cut down or wilted, apparently since they can then bite into them without getting poked in the nose.

Thistles grew in the Old Forest in the Burning Glade (LR 1.6).

Thyme. Thymus spp. A group of hardy sub-shrubs and herbaceous plants, which grow wild from northern temperate regions to the Mediterranean. Most grow up to 0.3m high with small, narrow green-grey or blue-green leaves. They bear lavender colored flowers from May to August.

All thymes have an aromatic odor and a warm, pungent taste. The leaves are used, fresh or dried, for culinary purposes. Honeybees love thyme, and it was often cultivated for them to feed on. Dried flowers were used to preserve cloth from moths and other pests.

Thyme grew in northern Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Tobacco. See Pipe-weed.

Water Lily. Also called Pond Lily, Water Nymph. Nymphaea sp. Aquatic flowering perennials with large, flat leaves that float on the water's surface. Water lilies grow on long, hollow stalks rooted in a muddy or silty bottom. The flowers of wild water lilies are usually white or pink.

Most water lilies live in still, shallow water on the edge of ponds, marshes and lakes. They require oxygen-rich water and full sunlight.

Water lilies grew in ponds along the Withywindle in the Old Forest (LR 1.6) and in Ithilien (LR 4.4).

Whortleberry. Also called Bilberry, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry. Vaccinium myrtillus. A close relative of the North American blueberry, the bilberry is a small (0.5 metre) perennial shrub plant that grows in the woods and forest meadows of northern Europe. Its leaves are oval, dark green, and shiny. The solitary, reddish-pink or red and white flowers bloom in May and June. The blue-black berries ripen in late July and August.

Like the blueberry, the whortleberry prefers sandy and/or alkaline soil.

Most whortleberries (bilberries) nowadays are used in jams, jellies, and pies, but the leaves and fruit have a long history of medicinal use.

Whortleberry grew between Moria and the borders of Lorien (LR 2.6) and in Ithilien (LR 4.7).

Willow. Salix spp. A deciduous tree, one of the earliest to bud and flower and the last to shed its leaves. There are many species, but most have long, slender leaves that are light greyish- or silvery-green in colour. Willows grow exceptionally fast (up to 2.5 metres per year for the first few years) but are rather short-lived, rarely exceeding 75 years.

Willows thrive wherever there is an abundance of moisture: along streams and riverbanks, at the edges of bogs and ponds, in areas with a high water table.

Osier (S. viminalis) is a fast-growing shrub variety with straight, shiny, yellow-brown shoots. It grows wild in fens, ditches and damp places, but is also often cultivated in osier-beds to be harvested for basket-weaving.

The pain-killing properties of an extract from the bark of the willow tree (salicin; related to acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin) have been known for thousands of years. Traditionally, the willow is associated with sorcery and the uncanny, which makes it an appropriate choice for the tree that entrapped the hobbits in the Old Forest (LR 1.6).

Medicinal Use: Arthritis, fever, gout, headache, pain, rheumatism, toothache. Basically anywhere you'd use aspirin or another antiinflammatory.

How to prepare:1 drachm of the powdered root. 1 or 2 fluid ounces of the decoction. 1-2 g bark (20-40 mg salicin), 1-3x/day.

Scientific evidence: Active ingredient is similar to aspirin, many years of evidence available.

Overdose causes: Similar to aspirin overdose, ringing in the ears, stomach discomfort. Massive overdoses cause serious blood chemistry disturbances. Long term use can lead to stomach ulcers.

Comments: Any healer should carry this one.

Sources: Herbalists' Desk Reference

Yew. Taxus sp. An evergreen, often multi-stemmed conifer of medium height (approx. 20 metres) with very dark green needles and red berries. Both the needles and seeds contain alkaloids that are poisonous to livestock.

Yew prefers chalk and limestone soils, and often appears as an undergrowth in oak woods. It is a very resilient tree that can survive shade and salty sea winds. Yew grows very slowly but is equally long-lived; many trees live for more than a thousand years.

Yew wood is extremely flexible and was famed as the best choice for crafting longbows; this is the only context in which it appears in Tolkien's works (LR 3.1).

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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.


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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

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