A healing herb from Numenor, it has a sweet and
fragrance. In Middle-Earth, athelas is only found near the
encampments and dwellings of old. The fragrance of this herb is
and clears the minds of those within its scent.
The Akallabeth speaks of the Eldar bringing
including “herbs of great virtue,” from Aman to the new
of Numenor. Undoubtedly, athelas was among these gifts, and from
descriptions, very likely came from the gardens of Lorien, where those
dwelt in the Blessed Land went for rest.
It is said in legend that the hands of the King are
hands of a healer. Indeed, Aragorn, Chieftain of the Dunedain of
and later King of the Reunited Kingdom, used this plant several times
heal wounds during the War of the Ring. The first time was to
the Morgul-wound Frodo had received at Weathertop. The next time
on Sam’s and Frodo’s wounds after they left Moria. He also used
to cure Faramir, Eowyn, and Merry of the Black Breath in the Houses of
in Minas Tirith.
Athelas is also known as kingsfoil by the “rustics”
called by the herbmaster of Minas Tirith), asëa aranion in the
and once called “the weed” by Ioreth, a healer of Minas Tirith.
This poem is still remembered by some (Return of
the King, pg 172):
When the black breath blows
And death’s shadow grows
And all lights pass,
Come athelas! Come athelas!
Life to the dying
In the king’s hand lying!
The usual preparation of athelas for healing use is
boil water. The leaves are then bruised or broken and placed into
water to steep. The wound is then bathed with the water, but the
refreshes all standing near.
In Histories of Middle-earth (HoME):
In the Lays of Beleriand, it says that Huan
a leaf of athelas to Luthien to heal a wound given to Beren by Celegorm
Curufin. It also offers a description of the plant.
“Then Huan came and bore a leaf,
In The Return of the Shadow, it is not said
it came from Numenor, only that it is “a healing plant, known only to
Elves, and to some of those who walk in the wild.”
of all the herbs of healing chief,
that evergreen in woodland glade
there grew with broad and hoary blade.”
(pg 319, lines 3117-31210)
In The Treason of Isengard, Trotter (early
version of Strider) lays an athelas leaf directly onto Sam’s wound.
In The War of the Ring, Trotter used athelas
to tend to a wounded shoulder that Snowmane (Theoden’s horse) received
at Helm’s Deep.
An early form of the name asëa aranion was
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Return of the King
The Lays of Beleriand, volume 3 of the History
The Return of the Shadow, volume 6 of the History
The Treason of Isengard, volume 7 of the History
The War of the Ring, volume 8 of the History