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Few settings in literature are as widely known or celebrated as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. The natural landscape plays a huge role in nearly all of Tolkien’s major works, and readers have come to view the geography of this fictional universe as integral to understanding and enjoying Tolkien’s works. And in laying out this continent, Tolkien paid special attention to its plant life; in total, over 160 plants are explicitly mentioned and described as part of Middle-Earth. Nearly all of these plants are real species, and the various fictional plants are in accordance with scientifically grounded botanic principles.
In Flora of Middle Earth: Plants of Tolkien’s Legendarium, botanist Walter Judd gives a detailed species account of each and every plant found in Tolkien’s universe, complete with the etymology of the plant’s name, a discussion of its significance within Tolkien’s work, a description of the plant’s distribution and ecology, and an original hand-drawn illustration by artist Graham Judd within the style of a woodcut print. A few of the over three-thousand vascular plants Tolkien would have seen within the British Isles, the authors show why Tolkien may have selected certain plants for inclusion in his universe over others, in the case of their botanic properties and traditional uses. The clear, comprehensive alphabetical listing of every species, together with the visual identification key of the plant drawings, adds to the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the Tolkien canon.
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