The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Found growing throughout Middle-earth, but especially near the dwellings of Dúnedain
Brought to Middle-earth from Númenor during the Second Age
a'sea ara'nion
'Kingsfoil' (that is, 'leaf of kings')
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 5 June 2024
  • This entry is complete

Asëa aranion


A name for a plant with remarkable healing properties, originally brought to Middle-earth by the Númenóreans. By the end of the Third Age, the plant grew wild in the lands where the Dúnedain had dwelt, from the wilds where the old North-kingdom had stood, to the forests of Gondor in the South. It was more commonly known by its Sindarin name of athelas, or in the Common Tongue as 'kingsfoil'. The name asëa aranion comes from the ancient tongue of Valinorean (that is, the Quenya of Valinor), meaning 'leaf of kings'.

The plant gave off a wholesome odour, which was multiplied when its long leaves were broken or bruised, which could, in the hands of a capable healer, help to counteract even he Black Breath of the Nazgûl. These powers of healing were especially potent in the hands of one of the royal line of the Dúnedain (hence the name 'kingsfoil'), and the kings of the Dúnedain were famous for their healing hands.1

It is not absolutely clear whether the curative powers of asëa aranion would work only for a king, or were simply more efficacious in royal hands, but an old poem remembered in Gondor does seem to imply the former.2 Nonetheless, the sweet smell of the plant meant that it was still kept in places, even where its restorative powers had been forgotten or reduced to folk medicine. At the time of the War of the Ring, Gondor had lost its last King almost a thousand years beforehand, and so the healing herb in the King's hands had become almost-forgotten lore. The plant's potency was revealed when Isildur's Heir Aragorn, descended from the High Kings of the Dúnedain, used it to help in healing many in Minas Tirith, including the Steward's heir Faramir.



The idea that the curative powers of asëa aranion were related to royalty has real historical parallels. Medieval kings in Europe were said to have the 'king's touch', which gave them the power to cure disease with a touch, or by gifting a coin.


Life to the dying / In the king's hand lying! from The Return of the King V 8, The Houses of Healing.

See also...

Athelas, Kingsfoil


About this entry:

  • Updated 5 June 2024
  • This entry is complete

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2006, 2021, 2024. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by Your Free Personality Test, the free personality test online
Are you ready for Your Free Personality Test? Take the ten-minute test online today and see your own eye-opening personality report.
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry