April 1, 2024

Magical Botany E #AtoZChallenge

         Welcome to the April A to Z Blog Challenge!  My theme this year is the Botany of the Realms of Imagination, in which I share a selection of the magical plants of folklore, fairy tale, and fantasy.  You can find all my fellow A to Z bloggers on the Master List of participating blogs here.   Be sure to check out what they're writing about.  As for me and the magical botany, it's time for E...
         Today I’ve got two plants from Middle-earth, as recorded by J.R.R. Tolkien.  First is elanor, a small star-shaped yellow flower.  I’m not sure it’s actually got any magical properties, but it was brought to Middle-earth by the elves and has great cultural significance for them.  Galadriel wore a crown of elanor.  The name means “sun-star.”
        A much more unusual plant is the ent.  You may quibble over whether or not ents are truly plants, since some theories hold that they began as humanoid people who grew to resemble trees because of their love for them.  But I hold with the opposite theory, that they began as trees, and were awakened and taught language.  Either way, they are basically walking sentient trees.  As befits tree-beings, they are very slow and deliberate in all their actions, unless they’re roused — but it takes a very long time to rouse them, too.  Their job is tree shepherds, protectors of the trees and forests.  Sometimes an ent will become more and more tree-ish until it basically goes to sleep and becomes a normal tree again.  I’d love to meet an ent, although I’m afraid any ents in my neighborhood would be very unhappy at the trees getting cut down.
        Our third plant of the day comes from a very different fantasy universe: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.  The egregious flytrap doesn’t just sit and wait for flies.  It spits venom for several yards.  The venom can be useful, however, as it’s excellent for etching intricate ironwork designs.  It grows in the Netherglades, a swampy coastal area near Quirm.  (Feel free to go back to A to revisit my pet Venus fly trap!  Honestly, it’s no surprise that so many fantasy plants are inspired by Venus fly traps, because they’re pretty darn fantastical.  No one would believe in them if we didn’t have the most compelling evidence of their actual existence.)
        The gardening tip of the day comes from the egregious flytrap: always wear full protective gear when you enter a swamp.  Especially a magical one.
        The moral of the ents is not to be too hasty.  As Treebeard would say, nothing is worth saying unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.
        The moral of elanor is that flowers and plants often have great sentimental significance.  Are there any that have special sentimental value for you?

[Pictures: Elanor, adapted from illustration by Anne Pratt from Wild Flowers, 1852 (Image from VincieAchiel on ebay);

Treebeard, illustration by Alan Lee (Image from Tolkien Gateway);

Venus Fly Trap (standing in for Egregious Fly Trap), rubber block print by AEGNydam, 2023 (Image from Nydam Prints).]


martine said...

Hi, enjoying your theme, I too am a great admirer of Ents. best wishes Martine

Donna B. McNicol said...

Interesting start to the challenge. I need to read Terry Pratchett again, I loved the Discworld books but it's been 20 or so years so I read them.


Chandrika said...

Nice theme! I do enjoy a maverick, jk - i like that you didn't start with A because Ents are definitely on top of my list of favorite magical things.


Frewin55 said...

Who doesn't love an Ent - surely one of Tolkien's greater inventions and so well portrayed in the films...

Mystee said...

Absolutely love the theme... :)

Torie Lennox said...

I love the pictures that accompany the posts - they really give a great visual! And thank you for the Discworld reminder - I need to get back to that!

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Elanor are one of my favourite flowers. I always dreamt of having a magicla garden when reading fantasy books. Elanor did of course have a place there, not so "naughty plants" like venom spitting fly traps and Triffids ;)

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Love Ents :-)

Ronel visiting for E: My Languishing TBR: E

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Chandrika, I did start with A, I just started early. You can go back and find all the earlier letters if you like!

Torie, glad you're enjoying the pictures. I do enjoy finding them.

Charlotte, one could argue that elanor are a non-native species, I suppose, while the egregious fly traps are native, however unpleasant. As for triffids, you'll have to wait for T!

Martine, Frewin, and Ronel, I'm glad to see ents getting so much love. =)

Donna, I have to confess I don't remember actually reading about the egregious flytraps, so I think they must be a very minor mention in one of the books. But botany aside, Terry Pratchett is always fun.

Mystee, thanks for stopping by!

Lori said...

This is the greatest theme! Love it!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks, Lori!