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Treebeard (Sindarin: Fangorn) is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novel. He is an Ent and is said by Gandalf to be "the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth." [1] He lives in the ancient Forest of Fangorn, to which he has given his name, which is situated at the southern end of the Misty Mountains. He is described as being about 14 feet (4.5 m) in height, and in appearance similar to a beech or an oak.[1]

First appearanceThe Two Towers (1954)
Voiced byJohn Rhys-Davies
  • Fangorn
  • The Ent

In The Two Towers he meets with Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took, two Hobbits of the Shire. This meeting proves to have consequences that contribute significantly to the story and enables the events that occur in The Return of the King.

About TreebeardEdit

As told in The Silmarillion, Ents were created in the Elder Days. They were created to be the "Shepherds of the Trees" and protect trees from the anticipated destruction that Dwarves would cause. Further details are provided in The Lord of the Rings, where Treebeard recounts to Merry and Pippin (a pair of hobbits) how the Ents were "awakened" and taught to speak by the Elves of that time: the Elves wanted to talk to everyone, he says. Treebeard also says that only three Ents remain from the Elder Days: himself, Finglas (Leaflock) and Fladrif (Skinbark). He tells the hobbits of the time when he could walk though the woods of Middle-earth for days. He sings a song about roaming the woods of Middle-earth, naming regions of Beleriand which were destroyed in the War of Wrath and now lie "beneath the waves," as he says. He partly contradicts Gandalf by saying there are valleys in Fangorn forest where the Great Darkness, the period of Morgoth's rule before the arising of the Moon and Sun, never lifted and the trees are older than he (of course, they do not walk).

The description of Treebeard is perhaps the most detailed of all the characters in The Lord of the Rings. The text, told from the point of view of Merry and Pippin, reads:

"They found they were looking at a most extraordinary face. It belonged to a large Man-like, almost Troll-like, figure, at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower part of the long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light.”[1]

Treebeard tells the hobbits that he thought they were little Orcs until he heard their voices, and if he had not heard them talking, he would have stepped on them to kill them and then discovered his mistake later. He is curious about them. There is a rhyme of lore that lists all the "Free Peoples" and hobbits are not included in it. The hobbits say they seem to be left out of the old lists, and suggest a line to add to the list to include them. Treebeard is also curious about what they have been doing, and eventually tells the hobbits quite a lot about himself and Ents.

Treebeard in the StoryEdit

After meeting Merry and Pippin (a pair of hobbits) and becoming acquainted, Treebeard learns that they think that Gandalf is dead. Apparently he knows otherwise, although he does not reveal it. He then takes them to a place that he says might be called "Wellinghall" in the Common Speech. There, after drinking some water that Treebeard pours from a jar, the hobbits tell him their adventures and Treebeard learns of Saruman's treachery. Merry and Pippin are discreet and do not mention the Ring. When they are finished, Treebeard says,

"Well, well. That is a bundle of news and no mistake. You have not told me all, no indeed, not by a long way. But I do not doubt that you are doing as Gandalf would wish. There's something very big going on, that I can see, and what it is maybe I shall learn in good time or bad time. By root and twig, but it is a strange business: up sprout a little folk that are not in the old lists and behold! the Nine forgotten Riders reappear to hunt for them, and Gandalf takes them on a great journey, and Galadriel harbours them in Caras Galadhon, and Orcs pursue them all down the leagues of Wilderland: indeed they seem to be caught up in a great storm.” [1]

Treebeard says that he does not like to worry about the future, but Saruman is a neighbour. He muses, "I must do something, I suppose." Saruman used to walk in Fangorn forest and talk to him, but on reflection he says that although he told Saruman many things, Saruman never told him anything. He realizes now that Saruman is plotting to be "a Power" and wonders what evil he is really doing: why has Saruman taken up with Orcs, why there are so many Orcs in his woods, why these Orcs are able to bear sunlight, and he is angered by trees being felled "to feed the fires of Orthanc."[1] He overcomes his anger and then, thinking aloud, begins to make plans for the next day. He also tells Merry and Pippin about the Entwives.

When the hobbits awake in the morning, Treebeard is not there, but he soon arrives and announces that he has been busy, and they will drink and then go to Entmoot. Entmoot, he explains to Pippin, is not a place but a gathering of Ents. Treebeard carries them quite a distance to the place where the Ents meet. This gathering lasts three days, during which Merry and Pippin are entrusted to the care of a younger Ent, Quickbeam (Sindarin: Bregolad). The Entmoot ends with all the Ents, about fifty of them, shouting, and then singing a marching song and striding to Isengard with Treebeard in the lead. During the march, Pippin notices the Huorns following.

The Ents arrive at Isengard just as Saruman's army is leaving, and they wait. After the army has left, Treebeard bangs on the gates and shouts for Saruman to come forth. Saruman, however, activates Isengard's defenses, and the Ents attack. They reduce the outer walls to rubble and destroy much of what is inside the walls. They are unable to make any impression on the stone of the tower of Orthanc itself. Treebeard than calls an end to the attack and the second part of the Ents' plan begins: they divert the river Isen and drown the entire ruined fortress. Saruman is left in the tower, surrounded by water and watchful Ents. Gríma Wormtongue arrives, having been ejected from Edoras by King Théoden, and Treebeard puts him in the tower as well.

After imprisoning Saruman, some of the Ents (including Treebeard) and Huorns keep watch, while others go to Helm's Deep. There, at daybreak, Saruman's army is caught between the cavalry charge of the Rohirrim from the Keep, the men of Westfold led by Gandalf and Erkenbrand attacking on their flank, and the forest of Huorns that appeared during the night that cuts off their retreat.

After this battle, a delegation led by Gandalf, including Théoden, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli and a company of Riders, arrives at Isengard and, except Gandalf, they are amazed that it has been destroyed. They meet Treebeard, and Merry and Pippin recount what has happened to them since the breakup of the Fellowship of the Ring. Treebeard promises Gandalf that Saruman will remain in the tower.

In The Return of the King, Treebeard is still at Isengard when Aragorn Elessar, now King of Gondor, comes there after the victory over Sauron. Treebeard has let Saruman go a few days before. Gandalf gently chastises him saying that Saruman might have persuaded Treebeard to let him go by "the poison of his voice." Treebeard delivers the keys of Orthanc to the King.

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Treebeard, as portrayed in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings.

Treebeard has inspired a number of artists and illustrators such as Inger Edelfeldt, John Howe,[2] Ted Nasmith,[3] Anke Eißmann,[4] and Alan Lee.[5]

In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, John Westbrook provided the voice of Treebeard.[6] Stephen Thorne voiced the character in BBC Radio's 1981 serialization.[7] Treebeard was originated onstage by Brian Amidei in the Lifeline Theatre's 1999 production of The Two Towers.[citation needed]

In Peter Jackson's films The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Treebeard is a combination of a large animatronic model and a CGI construct; his voice is performed by John Rhys-Davies, who also portrays Gimli. In The Two Towers, Merry and Pippin run into the Fangorn Forest in an attempt to escape a band of Uruk-hai and orcs that kidnapped them. There, they are pursued by one orc. Treebeard awakens, crushes the orc, and takes Merry and Pippin to the "White Wizard" (later revealed to be a revived Gandalf) to see if they were "little orcs" or not. Assured that they are not orcs, Treebeard keeps the hobbits with him for safety. The Ents at the Entmoot decline Merry and Pippin's request for help. Treebeard is carrying the Hobbits through Fangorn Forest when Pippin gets an idea: he asks Treebeard to carry them toward Isengard, because that is the "last place" Saruman would look for them. When Treebeard gets close to the forest's edge, he sees the devastation wrought by Saruman's Orcs. The trees have all been hacked down to serve as fuel for Saruman's war machines. In anger, Treebeard summons the other Ents, who emerge from the forest. They attack Isengard and flood it. Treebeard, in addition, sends the Huorns to attack Saruman's Orcs as they retreated from Helm's Deep. In a deleted scene, Treebeard mentions to the hobbits about the Entwives and how they literally were lost. He also rescues them from a tree that holds them captive (similar to a scene in the novel of The Fellowship of the Ring, with Tom Bombadil).

Treebeard makes a brief appearance in The Return of the King, keeping watch over Isengard with Merry and Pippin as Théoden, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn arrive to pick up the two hobbits.

A 6-metre-high sculpture of Treebeard by Tolkien's great-nephew Tim Tolkien was built in Birmingham, where Tolkien grew up.[8] There is also a statue of an Ent, which looks very similar to Treebeard, in Grizedale Forest, Cumbria.

Treebeard also makes an appearance in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers video game as an unplayable character. Treebeard is also a temporary playable character in the game Lego The Lord of the Rings.

In the Battle for Middle-earth series of video games, Treebeard appears as a purchasable hero for the forces of light.

In the Top Trumps games franchise card game the age stated of Treebeard is 17,051 years.

On the Dawn in Rivendell (the Tolkien Ensemble) compact disc, Treebeard is voiced by Christopher Lee.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954). "Treebeard". The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0547952024.
  2. ^ "Treebeard". Illustrator John Howe. 2002. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Treebeard and the Entmoot". Ted Nasmith official website. Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Treebeard". Anke Eißmann official website. 2000. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  5. ^ Joint, Laura (5 October 2007). "Trees as art". BBC. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  6. ^ Beck, Jerry (2005-10-28). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781569762226.
  7. ^ Simpson, Paul (2013-09-19). A Brief Guide to C. S. Lewis: From Mere Christianity to Narnia. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9781472100672.
  8. ^ "LOTR statue in safety debate". CBBC Newsround. 9 April 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2010.

External linksEdit