Another year, another St. Patrick’s Day. Shamrocks figure highly in the symbolism of Ireland, which got me wondering about other such botanicals in the fantasy world — those plants with an outsize influence or symbolism.

My first thought, as it often does, went to Tolkien, in this case athelas, or as it is known to the “rustics,” Kingsfoil, or for those who know something of the Valinorian — asëa aranion. I suppose nowadays it would be considered an herbal supplement. (The card shown here comes from the LOTR card game.)

So as we all prepare for our own wearin’ of the green, I was wondering:

What are some of your favorite uses of plants in fantasy — whether for healing, intoxication, simple feeding, etc.?

One commenter wins a book from our stacks.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.