A giant falls: the Tolkien tree is no more


March 2009 - Oxford Botanic Garden 012

Perhaps more than any other aspect of biodiversity, big trees hold a special place in our emotions.  Sure, whales do too, but it’s hard to hug a whale.  Trees on the other hand can be approachable behemoths, instilling awe into the observer and grandeur into a locality.  So I was hugely saddened to discover today that the vast Black Pine (Pinus nigra) at Oxford Botanic Garden had been badly damaged a few months ago and has been felled.  I’ve known this tree since 1987, and have introduced generations of undergraduates to it during our annual trip to the Garden.  Each time I tell the story that it was one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s favourite trees and probably inspired his creation of the ents in Lord of the Rings.

The damage to the tree and its subsequent felling has been caught on camera, though I should warn you that for anyone who knew and loved the tree it’s an emotionally charged video.  The tree has been propagated and its offspring will live on, but it will be another 200 years before one of them becomes quite so majestic.

March 2009 - Oxford Botanic Garden 011


9 thoughts on “A giant falls: the Tolkien tree is no more

  1. Clem

    Do you know whether the offspring will be marketed as such? Tolkien fan’s may want their own baby ‘ent’. And what of the wood from the beast? I can’t imagine anyone letting it be burned unless it is of such poor condition now that no other use is possible. It appears from the picture that it was cut to relatively short pieces – not at all what I’d have expected if there were some thought that the lumber could be used.

    1. jeffollerton Post author

      Not sure what they will do with the offspring, though there probably are not enough to sell. No doubt they will replant some trees in the garden and elsewhere.

      I spoke to one of the garden staff who told me that there was a possibility of them turning the wood (which is in good condition) into mementos to sell. I’d buy a turned bowl!

      1. Clem

        Or a pipe… a Hobbit pipe of course. Book ends to hold one’s Tolkien collection (though all my copies are paperback – the price of being a fan while also being a broke college student). Wizard’s wand; Elfin arrows; the imagination soars!

  2. Pingback: Spiral Sunday #7 – The Fernery at Oxford Botanic Garden | Jeff Ollerton's Biodiversity Blog

  3. Pingback: Tolkien's favourite tree in Oxford's Botanic Garden to be cut down - thetolkienist.com

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