Tolkien's Plant Passion Moves Botanist To Create Guide To Middle Earth

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NPR story - Tolkien's Plant Passion Moves Botanist To Create Guide To Middle Earth

When most people read J.R.R. Tolkien, they get swept up in mythical worlds of hobbits and elves, harrowing journeys in fantastical lands and epic battles of good and evil.

But Walter Judd says he got lost in the scenery.

"I started underlining every name of a plant as I was reading The Lord of the Rings," he tells NPR's Morning Edition.

All of the figures in the book — like this nasturtium — are hand-drawn by Graham Judd, who says he used a minimalist woodblock-style to let readers' imaginations bring the illustrations to life.

Moved by Tolkien's passion for plants, the retired botany professor spent years cataloging every plant that appeared in his writing, eventually compiling a list of 141 different species. He teamed up with his son, Graham, a professional illustrator. And together, they embarked on quest to transform that list into a botanical guide to Middle Earth.

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