As frequent readers know, The Beat is something of an amateur Tolkienologist, having memorized The Lord of the Rings at an early age, and waded into theories of Elven geneology by reading all of The History of MIddle Earth at an older age. While the fauna of Eriador and the Undying Lands are pretty well known to the general fantasy public, thanks to the movies and a constant flow of fantasy art feturing wargs and balrogs, the plants of Middle Earth have not had similar treatment.
Until now! In Flora of Middle Earth: Plants of Tolkien’s Legendarium, to be published next week by Oxford University Press, botanist Walter Judd examines the many plant – real, imagined, and inspired by – from Tolkien’s works and discusses etymologies, the significance of the plants in the books, and the what we know of the ecology of each species. The listings are accompanied by original hand-drawn illustrations by artist Graham Judd in a woodcut print style.
An examination of the plants of Middle Earth is especially fitting since Tolkien was, at heart, an ecologist, who mourned the loss of his beloved boyland woodlands to the industralization of his native Midlands. The chapter “The Scouring of the Shire” was famously based on the buildings of factories in Birmingham, and the destruction of plantlife is always an utmost horror in Tolkien’s books – as the revenge of the walking-tree Ents against Saruman, a guy with a sawblade, shows.
Here’s a sneak peak at some of the art form the book, asn the Amazon link that benefits the Beat’s shoe fund should you click through:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.