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Author Topic: Athelas. AKA probably the strangest identification ever asked.  (Read 482 times)

Cris_87

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Hi everyone, this is my first message.

The Lord of The Rings is a book with millions of fans over the world, and Professor Tolkien himself was a great admirer of plants and flowers.
The remarkable detail of the flora described in his books proves this beyond any reasonable doubt.

Over the years, there have been extensive attempts to identify IRL counterparts for the literary depicted Athelas from The Lord of The Rings Book.
Here is an exquisite thread with the interesting suggestions emerged on stackexchange.
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/244820/is-kingsfoil-derived-from-basil

However, no consistent attempt has been recorded to date in trying to identify the real plant used as Athelas in The Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies.
The one entered into the collective imagination and recognized worldwide as Athelas.

So I started a thread on stack exchange, https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/287690/which-plant-was-used-as-athelas-in-lotr-hobbit-movies and on European, New Zealand, and British Columbia Botanical forums in order to gather hypoteses, and check them. So this is officially a worldwide attempt of identification.

Presently, the European Botanists advise tend to exclude the Lamiaceae family and to point the attention towards Chaenostoma cordatum or a white Periwinkle species. Here some images.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&taxon_id=501464

But I'd like to hear your thoughts on the topic, according to your experience.

Here the pictures I gathered from the scenes where Athelas appears, collected at a 0.25x speed in order to be as defined as possible, along with the videos at the exact moment.
0:50
https://youtu.be/0d0ZslGu6x8?t=50
2:45
https://youtu.be/RN7bIFTLOPU?t=165
0:00


Thanks to all who will join.




Cris_87

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Re: Athelas. AKA probably the strangest identification ever asked.
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2024, 09:09:46 AM »
Anybody? At the moment one of the other botanical forum I'm in touch with proposed Chaenostoma cordatum cv. Snowflake, because of the small flowers,
narrowing the research to NZ weeds. Here are some pictures https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6803&taxon_id=501464
But I'd love to hear what you think of it

arisaema

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Re: Athelas. AKA probably the strangest identification ever asked.
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2024, 09:21:44 AM »
proposed Chaenostoma cordatum cv. Snowflake, because of the small flowers

That would be my first guess, it's a widely available garden plant...

Maggi Young

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Re: Athelas. AKA probably the strangest identification ever asked.
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2024, 12:17:59 PM »
 Chaenostoma cordatum cv. Snowflake may well be the plant used in the film - but what can that tell us about the plant referred to by Tolkien?! Not a lot, I fear!
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

Cris_87

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Re: Athelas. AKA probably the strangest identification ever asked.
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2024, 09:16:21 AM »
Thanks arisaema and Maggi.

Yes @Maggi, we all agree with you on that.
That's why I opened my previous message addressing precisely that issue.
If you read carefully, you'll find cited an entire stackexchange thread dedicated to that.

Spolier alert:
among the commentors, one claims to have been corresponding personally with the Professor, stating clearly that Athelas "has no IRL counterpart."
here the link to the comment. https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/273917/174590
There's no easy way to verify the source, but that seems quite reasonable actually, qualyfing the described plant more as a mix of positive features from different species.

That's why we are focusing on the real one, the one used in the movies.
Thanks



 


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