“Flora of Middle-Earth” (March 1)

Published: February 6th, 2018

Category: News

UF Emeritus Professor of Biology Walter S. Judd discusses his new book on the botany of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional universe

“Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium”

Walter S. Judd

Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Biology

University of Florida


March 1, 2018, 5:30 PM

Marston Science Library, Room L-136

University of Florida

Event is free and open to the public. Copies of Professor Judd’s book will be available for sale and signing by the author.


Few settings in literature are as widely known or celebrated as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. The natural landscape plays a major 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 a part of Middle-Earth. Nearly all of these plants are real species, and many of the fictional plants are based on scientifically grounded botanic principles.

In Flora of Middle Earth: Plants of Tolkien’s Legendarium, botanist Walter Judd gives a detailed species account of 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 in the style of a woodcut print. Among the over three-thousand vascular plants Tolkien would have seen in the British Isles, the authors show why Tolkien may have selected certain plants for inclusion in his universe over others, in terms of their botanic properties and traditional uses. The clear, comprehensive alphabetical listing of each species, along with the visual identification key of the plant drawings, adds to the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the Tolkien canon.

About the author

Walter S. Judd is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the UF Department of Biology, and holds an affiliate appointment in the Florida Museum of Natural History. His research focuses on the systematics and evolution of the flowering plants. He has published over 230 professional articles and has described numerous new species of plants. He is a co-author of the widely adopted introductory textbook Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach and Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium, both published by Oxford University Press.

“Flora of Middle Earth” is sponsored by the George A. Smathers Libraries and the Science Fiction Working Group. For more information contact Terry Harpold or Sara Gonzalez.

This event has been certified a Green-Level Sustainable Event by the UF Office of Sustainability, in recognition of “the highest level of effort taken toward sustainability” with regard to event planning, purchasing, promotion, transportation, and hosting. For more information about the Sustainable Event Certification program see this link.


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