Tolkien Gateway


Other namesTaters
LocationThe Shire
Potatoes or taters in Hobbitish, were root vegetables that were apparently among the staple foods of the Hobbits (Hamfast Gamgee was recognized locally as an expert on growing potatoes).[1] Samwise Gamgee expected to find them in Ithilien.[2]

[edit] Etymology

Potato is a word of Spanish and Native American origins. The term tater seen to be used in Hobbitish, represents UK slang.

Since the potatoes are a New World plant (see below), it has been suggested that "potatoes" is perhaps a "translation" from a Westron name of a related but otherwise unrecorded plant of Third Age Middle-earth.[3]

[edit] Inspiration

Fans have noticed that potatoes are a New World plant, not native to the Old World setting of Middle-earth. The pipe-weed (another New World plant) is referenced as having being brought from Númenor and fans have explored the possibility that this was also the case with potatoes.[3][4][5]. The Children of Húrin mentions that the Dwarves of Beleriand boiled a white fleshy root similar to bread[6] which could have been another instance of potatoes in Middle-earth, from the First Age.

See also tomatoes[7] concerning a similar apparent "paradox".


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mark Fisher, "Potatoes", Encyclopedia of Arda (accessed 2 July 2022)
  4. Forum discussion at LOTRplaza
  5. Forum discussion at the TolkienForum
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "Of Mîm the Dwarf"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition