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John Howe - Hobbit pipe

Pipe-weed (also known as Halflings' Leaf or simply Leaf) was a plant developed by the Hobbits of the Shire.


[edit] History

Apparently the plant grew in Númenor and was brought to Middle-earth by Númenóreans during the Second Age. In Gondor it grew as a wild herb, appreciated primarily for its fragrant blossoms and the Gondorians knew it as sweet galenas or more popularly as westmansweed,[1] a reference to its origin.

It was not until the Third Age when it reached Eriador, probably through the Greenway, and the Bree-hobbits were the first to use it for smoking. From Bree the habit of smoking pipe-weed spread to other regions, as well as to other races, such as Men, Dwarves and Wizards.[2]

But it was in the Shire where it was first domesticated, by Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom in Southfarthing around S.R. 1070. The cultivation and exportation of this herb became a key industry in the Shire, especially in the south. Popular varieties of pipe-weed included Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star from the Shire.[2] Perhaps less popular was Southlinch from Bree.[3]

The Wizard Gandalf learned to smoke pipe-weed from the Hobbits and was often seen blowing smoke-rings.[2] Saruman initially derided him for this, but at some point he took up smoking himself, and even had commerce with the Shire: After the destruction of Isengard, pipe-weed was found among its stores, but the Hobbits Merry and Pippin failed to realize the sinister implications.

After the War of the Ring, Meriadoc Brandybuck authored Herblore of the Shire discussing the origins and history of the Hobbits' 'art' of smoking Pipe-weed.[2]

[edit] Inspiration

In the prologue to The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien stated specifically that "it is a strain of the herb nicotiana",[2] i.e. tobacco. Whether the substance is psychoactive remains unclear.

[edit] Etymology

The common Gondorian name of pipe-weed was Westmansweed.[4] The more noble name was galenas (a Gondor Sindarin form of the proper Sindarin form galanes), with Quenya forms alanesse or alenesse derived from ala- "plant, grow" and nes- "sweet smelling".[5]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Item-Sweet Galenas.jpg

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The smoke from Sweet Galenas takes the form of a sailing ship that floats out from the pipe.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Houses of Healing"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Pipe-weed"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Houses of Healing"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 100