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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Flora and fauna of Mirkwood

Cirashala
Wakandian


Mar 8, 3:52am

Post #1 of 13 (905 views)
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Flora and fauna of Mirkwood Can't Post

Does anyone know what kind of fauna would have been present in Mirkwood? (Yes, I know this may call for a bit of speculation...)

I know, or at least, have heard, that Mirkwood was inspired by Germany's Black Forest. He also had a conceit of which he thought of the tales of Middle-earth as pre-ancient Europe translated by Aelfwine, to which he translated from.

So, I looked up original native animals to the Black Forest, which (given the film- yes, I know there's a wee bit of crossover here) interestingly, included Megaloceros (a real world, extinct ancient ungulate that, in The Hobbit, Thranduil rode as a steed). Brown bear is another, which could be supported by Beorn calling bears "far and wide" (IIRC) to conference with them outside his home. I know TH mentions black squirrels, and obviously the butterflies Bilbo observed over the canopy. (And the spiders, but I'm more looking for non-Sauronesque fauna- as in, what other animals would be there on a native/regular basis). We also know there were stags, as Thorin's company shot (and missed) a stag after crossing the Enchanted River.

On fauna, we know that there were oak and beech trees, with fir on the high slopes of the Mountains of Mirkwood. We also know there were moss and lichens, and I believe mushrooms as well? (I'm not 100% certain on that last one).

What other types of flora and fauna do you think were present in Mirkwood? Do you think looking at the Black Forest and its ancient, extirpated, and native species of flora and fauna would be pretty darn close?

I know the Black Forest is home to wild boars as well, and (I don't know if this is in the book, to be fair- I don't recall) Aragorn mentions wild boars when describing the spear that struck Frodo in Moria.

Also, one last question- were ALL wolves in Middle-earth considered evil? Or just wargs and werewolves? Do you think there were regular wolves in Mirkwood as well?

My writing and novels:

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You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Na Vedui
Defender


Mar 9, 12:38am

Post #2 of 13 (833 views)
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Black squirrels [In reply to] Can't Post

There are real "black squirrels". At any rate, that's what they called them in Canton Thurgau in NE Switzerland. Southern Germany is just the other side of Lake Constance, so maybe they have them in the Black Forest too.

They weren't really black, a sort of dark donkey-brown with paler underparts; the same style as red squirrels, with the tufty ears, but quite a bit bigger.

I wonder if Tolkien saw them? He had a walking-holiday in the Alps once, didn't he?

How about woodpeckers? There are several European kinds, including (believe it or not) a Black Woodpecker, which would be very suitable for Mirkwood and could be sinister or perfectly natural, as you liked. Black all over, except the male has a red cap, the female just a dab of red at the back of the head.


N.E. Brigand
Asgardian


Mar 9, 7:21pm

Post #3 of 13 (772 views)
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Probably not the Schwarzwald. [In reply to] Can't Post

The name Mirkwood, at any rate, derives from Old Norse legends about a forest that separated the Goths from the Huns, which would have been well to the east of modern Germany, perhaps in Ukraine. So perhaps include aurochs and wisent in the forest fauna?


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Mar 9, 10:01pm

Post #4 of 13 (766 views)
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Aurochs and Wisent? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wouldn't cattle and bison be more likely to inhabit grasslands than woodland? But I would think that any creature that might have been found in a western European forest in pre-Roman times might also be found in Mirkwood.

But on to Cirashala's second question: I do not think that all wolves in Middle-earth were evil; most were just normal beasts--or at least as normal as any creature can be in a world where the speech of birds can be understood by Men, Elves and Dwarves and where a dog might serve you dinner. Wargs and Werewolves were special categories of wolf that had been corrupted by Melkor or possessed by evil entities.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity


N.E. Brigand
Asgardian


Mar 9, 10:51pm

Post #5 of 13 (764 views)
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Lions and tigers and bears. [In reply to] Can't Post

I had no idea before now that tigers were once found as far east as the southern shores of the Black Sea, just a few hundred miles from Ukraine. (Or what used to be Ukraine until a few years ago.) They were last observed in Turkey in the 1980s. And apparently in centuries past the tigers' prey included the wisent, which seems to live in both grassland and woodland settings. Lions lived even closer to Ukraine.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Hamfast Gamgee
X-men

Mar 10, 12:28am

Post #6 of 13 (756 views)
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Real world forests [In reply to] Can't Post

Although I am not sure if Mirkwood is more of a jungle than a forest. Or at the least a rain-forest. But if is iike an ancient european one, then yes maybe boars or bears might have been more of a likely species to encounter than giant spiders. Mind, is been attacked by a group of wild boars and bears any worse than been attacked by giant spiders?


Hamfast Gamgee
X-men

Mar 10, 12:32am

Post #7 of 13 (755 views)
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I've never seen a black woodpecker! [In reply to] Can't Post

And I do know my birds. At least the British ones. I've seen greater spotted, green and even lesser spotted, once, but never a black woodpecker.


Cirashala
Wakandian


Mar 10, 1:27am

Post #8 of 13 (747 views)
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I think the Kine of Araw [In reply to] Can't Post

are based off the aurochs Smile I do think that they'd be more likely to be the grasslands east of Mirkwood though Wink

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Mar 10, 2:34pm

Post #9 of 13 (697 views)
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Oh my! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I had no idea before now that tigers were once found as far east as the southern shores of the Black Sea, just a few hundred miles from Ukraine. (Or what used to be Ukraine until a few years ago.) They were last observed in Turkey in the 1980s. And apparently in centuries past the tigers' prey included the wisent, which seems to live in both grassland and woodland settings. Lions lived even closer to Ukraine.


And in my "TOR Guide to the Blue Mountains" home-brew for The One Ring RPG I placed cave lions in the Blue Mountains. I also have Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus) in Forlindon. I might have gone a little too far, though, with megafauna in Forochel and Forodwaith.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Mar 10, 2:37pm)


Felagund
Fantastic Four


Mar 11, 11:48am

Post #10 of 13 (644 views)
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Mirkwood boars etc [In reply to] Can't Post

You inspired me to go back to the text - the first time in a while for me with The Hobbit, and I reckon I might read it all over again now, thank you! I have a few editions and for this I went to my lovely 1984 hardback edition, illustrated by Michael Hague.

Anyway, as well as the 'black emperor' butterflies you mention, when Thorin & Co. lit their evening fires, they were plagued by "dark-grey and black moths, some nearly as big as your hand". That passage is one of the most memorable and eery for me, as it also includes the hundreds of glowing yellow, red and green eyes that would peer at the Company from the darkness. Fox eyes glow greenish/yellow at night, when reflecting light - maybe this species is one of our suspects? Bilbo's least favourite were the "horrible pale bulbous" eyes, which later turn out to belong to the giant spiders.

You mention boars. Right at the beginning of the "Flies & Spiders" chapter, we get the description: "There were queer noises too, grunts, scufflings, and hurryings in the undergrowth...". Having encountered similar in the Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire, England), famous for its wild boar, I suspect this could be an oblique reference to Mirkwood boars!

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


Cirashala
Wakandian


Mar 11, 4:33pm

Post #11 of 13 (633 views)
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Thanks for reminding me [In reply to] Can't Post

of the moths! I remembered the flies, but had forgotten about the moths! Smile

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Na Vedui
Defender


Mar 11, 7:51pm

Post #12 of 13 (622 views)
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Black woodpeckers [In reply to] Can't Post

The black ones don't seem to have got to Britain, or if they did, there aren't any now. Just (much of) mainland Europe.
I do envy you your Lesser-Spotted! The other two I have seen here, but not that one.


CMackintosh
Ant-person

Mar 23, 9:42am

Post #13 of 13 (257 views)
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Ivy [In reply to] Can't Post

There was ivy, so that must've grown up near the path and in the clearings, because it doesn't grown well in the dark. And lichen on the trees. Mushrooms - or course there'd be mushrooms - Mirkwood's a dark forest, so there would be plenty of shade and plenty of old and decaying plant matter to grow on. There wouldn't be that much undergrowth, because undergrowth needs a fair amount of sun. It would tend to cluster around the path and the clearings as well.

 
 

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