Everything You Never Thought You Needed To Know About Pipe-Weed In Middle-Earth

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien have given us a lush, vast fantasy realm in Middle-Earth, one that's extraordinarily archived and detailed in his many writings. But a new book wants to go even further on one particularly famous aspect: Tolkien's use of botany to tell us about the flora of Middle-Earth... and how its inhabitants smoke it.

Image: Oxford University Press. Art by Graham Judd

Being released by Oxford University Press next week, Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium — written by Botanist Walter Judd — examines over 160 of the plants Tolkien meticulously described in his novels from an academic view, analysing them from both a critical and scientific standpoint in an attempt to understand how and why Tolkien decided to use them in his works.

As well as providing a frankly extraordinary amount of information about one tiny fragment of the world of Middle-Earth, the book also includes a ton of beautiful illustrated visuals courtesy of Graham Judd, done in the style of woodcut prints — which makes the whole thing feel like it could almost be some moth-eaten tome compiled by a particularly inquisitive hobbit, sitting on a shelf somewhere in Hobbiton. Check out the section of the book dedicated to Middle-Earth's smoked leaf of choice, the humble Pipe-Weed, making its debut here. Don't forget to click on the images to see larger versions of each page!


Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium hits shelves August 15.