Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsPrologue Concerning Pipe Weed Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | Prologue (Concerning Pipe-weed) | Summary



Hobbits of the Shire developed the "astonishing" habit of imbibing or inhaling pipe-weed (also known simply as leaf) and came to love it so much that they considered the smoking of pipe-weed an "art" rather than a custom. Meriadoc Brandybuck's written history of pipe-weed, Herblore of the Shire, claims hobbits originated the practice of smoking the pipe-weed even though the Men of Westernesse originally brought the plant to Middle-earth. Merry notes that not even wizards thought of smoking it before hobbits did, "though one Wizard that I knew took up the art long ago, and became as skillful in it as in all other things that he put his mind to."


Tolkien mentions the "best home-grown still comes from that district, especially the varieties now known as Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star." The mysterious appearance of Longbottom Leaf in Saruman's storehouses brings to light the connection between the Shire, Bree, and Saruman. The final showdown between the returning hobbits and Saruman in "The Scouring of the Shire" is the resolution to the mystery of the Longbottom Leaf.

This section also mentions The Prancing Pony of Bree where Aragorn first meets Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin: "The home and centre of the art is thus to be found in the old inn of Bree, The Prancing Pony, that has been kept by the family of Butterbur from time beyond record."

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