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I'm working in a videogame set at the end of the Third Age in Middle-earth, and I would like to properly use Middle-earth materials, flora and fauna. I've been looking at MERP (a tabletop RPG) publications, they're great, but I'm aware of them adding non-canon elements. For example, adarcer metal.

The problem is, how do I know what is non-canon? Is there any compilation with canon material? Some publication or website. Based on this question, I suspect there is none, but checking Tolkien's novels and letters by myself would be pretty crazy.

Ideally I would have descriptions and explanations of their special properties. If not, I'll use MERP stuff, but at least it would be great to know what's canon.

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    Checking against Tolkien gateway is usually a good bet. Additionally, spelling “Middle-earth” correctly is a good start.
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 30, 2020 at 11:44
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    If your videogame is commercial, you'll very likely run into rights issues unless you've already obtained approval.
    – Adamant
    Jan 30, 2020 at 11:59
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    It should be a concern. Trademarks and copyright aren't things you only have to care about when creating a product you intend to sell. Jan 30, 2020 at 13:51
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    What makes you think most or all of the plants and animals aren't exactly what you'd find in modern, medieval, or ancient Europe?
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 30, 2020 at 13:56
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    @RobertF there is no confusion. It’s “Middle-earth” and nothing else. Tolkien is incredibly consistent on this matter.
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 31, 2020 at 9:03

2 Answers 2

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As far as flora is concerned you can check the Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium book, which seems to follow Tolkien canon quite closely.

Few settings in literature are as widely known or celebrated as J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. The natural landscape plays a major role in nearly all of Tolkien's major works, and readers have come to view the geography of this fictional universe as integral to understanding and enjoying Tolkien's works. And in laying out this continent, Tolkien paid special attention to its plant life; in total, over 160 plants are explicitly mentioned and described as a part of Middle-Earth. Nearly all of these plants are real species, and many of the fictional plants are based on scientifically grounded botanic principles.

In Flora of Middle Earth: Plants of Tolkien's Legendarium, botanist Walter Judd gives a detailed species account of every plant found in Tolkien's universe, complete with the etymology of the plant's name, a discussion of its significance within Tolkien's work, a description of the plant's distribution and ecology, and an original hand-drawn illustration by artist Graham Judd in the style of a woodcut print. Among the over three-thousand vascular plants Tolkien would have seen in the British Isles, the authors show why Tolkien may have selected certain plants for inclusion in his universe over others, in terms of their botanic properties and traditional uses. The clear, comprehensive alphabetical listing of each species, along with the visual identification key of the plant drawings, adds to the reader's understanding and appreciation of the Tolkien canon.

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I typed "middle-earth anachronisms" in the search bar which led to this:

https://scifi.stackexchange.com/search?q=Middle+Earth+anachronisms

But there are only three questions there and I remember answering a few other questions on similar topics.

Including: How did non-native plants find their way to Middle-earth?1

And: What modern day items are mentioned in JRRT's writings?2

And: Did the Shire import any goods?3

And: What was the value of the Shire and everything in it?4

So those are some places to look for native and non native plants and animals mentioned in Middle-earth.

And here is a link to another question about Middle-earth materials:

What material are weapons and armors in the Middle-earth forged from?5

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  • I'm curious if some of the New World foods mentioned in Lord of the Rings, like potatoes, are really potatoes or instead a "potato analogue" - a potato-like tuber that grows in Middle-earth?
    – RobertF
    Jan 30, 2020 at 17:23
  • "Dwarves have never taken to matches." from The Hobbit, can't give a page number, though.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 30, 2020 at 17:55
  • New World foods mentioned are tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco. Tomatoes were revised out of the text, tobacco was introduced by Numenoreans who might have been to the Americas. Leaving potatoes... I suppose it's possible they're really parsnips or something, or maybe the Numenoreans brought them too then they died out before the modern era.
    – Showsni
    Jan 30, 2020 at 18:03
  • @Showsni not sure how the Numenoreans could travel west when they were banned from it?
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 30, 2020 at 20:32
  • @Edlothiad: Numenorean sailors reportedly circumnavigated the globe after the destruction of Numenor. Prior to that, they had sailed to the uttermost east and seen the Gates of the Morning. One presumes that the Americas, at that time, were located in the far east, which became the West when Valinor was removed and the world wrapped into a nice sphere.
    – Shamshiel
    Jan 30, 2020 at 23:38

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