The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien

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  • Updated 24 December 2020
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Sunflowers

Tall golden flowers

Flowers that grow on a stem that can reach three metres (or about ten feet) in height, from which a large circular golden flowerhead emerges, tightly packed with seeds. Sunflowers were known to grow in the garden at Bag End, beside snapdragons and nasturtians, which together filled the garden with golden and scarlet flowers.


Modern sunflowers originate from the Americas, which makes it difficult to explain how they found their way into Bilbo Baggins' garden in the Shire, east of the Great Sea. In at least one case, that of lobelia, Tolkien uses the name of a familiar modern plant for one with similar characteristics known to the Hobbits, and it may be that a comparable substitution is in effect here. On this assumption, the 'sunflowers' in Bilbo's garden would actually be golden sun-like flowers of a kind unknown today, and not necessarily related to the plant we call a 'sunflower'. (Following this line of reasoning, they may also have been shorter than modern sunflowers, which would help to explain how Sam Gamgee was able to take care of flowers that could grow to three times his own height.)


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  • Updated 24 December 2020
  • Updates planned: 1

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