Mushrooms in the World of Tolkien
Fans of the Lord of the Rings films fondly remember the “shortcut to mushrooms” scene from The Fellowship of the Ring, but not everyone knows that Tolkien himself loved eating mushrooms, and that’s part of why his hobbits were so obsessed with them. We’ll examine the way mushrooms show up in Tolkien’s writing, the films, and Lord of the Rings video games.
J.R.R. Tolkien described himself as a Hobbit in all but size, noting that he was very fond of mushrooms. As an homage to Tolkien’s own affinity for them, mushrooms were a particular delight of young Frodo Baggins. In the Lord of the Rings books, Frodo would often steal mushrooms from Farmer Maggot’s fields. Old Maggot still remembered it when Frodo came to his farm years later, and as a parting gift, Mrs. Maggot gave Frodo a basket of the prized mushrooms.
In The Fellowship of the Ring a nod to Farmer Maggot’s mushrooms is given when Frodo and Sam, making their way out of the Shire, encounter Merry and Pippin, who have just raided the farmer’s fields. After tumbling down a hillside, Pippin spots mushrooms growing wild along the road.
It has been speculated by some scholars of literature that Tolkien was, in various ways, paying homage to shamanistic culture and the psychedelic properties of certain mushrooms with some of his imagery and motifs throughout the series.
Author Robert Tindall puts it like this:
“It turns out to be perfectly plausible that J.R.R. Tolkien could have directly experienced the resident divinities of plants that his work celebrates so markedly. Certainly, mushrooms (although not psychedelic) play an important role in the culture of the Shire! Frodo’s appetite for them is legendary, at least with Farmer Maggot.”
Mushrooms in Tolkien Video Games
Mushrooms are scattered all throughout the world of Tolkien, and Lord of the Rings video games are exception. Here are just a few instances of mushrooms in Lord of the Rings games:
In The Hobbit (2003 video game), Balfor Mushrooms in Goblin-town. Mushrooms serve as power-ups throughout the game. One mushroom – green and blue of colour – restores one health bubble. Later in the game, larger, clustered mushrooms serve as a full healing item.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), mushrooms are collectible items found throughout the Shire. When consumed, they restore 10 points of the player’s health.
In The Lord of the Rings Online, mushrooms can be grown by players who are farmers by profession. Players who are cooks can make these into mushroom pie, fried mushroom and fried dace with mushrooms. These are foods for low leveled characters that can increase different traits.