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Thread: Green Flora and Photosynthesis

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Before the hanging of the sun and the moon, like before the lighting of Middle-earth, what was the energy source that enabled photosynthesis to make Yavanna's plants green? Was the starlight that bright?
First there was the Age of the Lamps. That was when the Spring of Arda began.

Melkor then cast down the lamps (some say because the strange material he had supplied the Valar for their construction was actually ice), and the world was cast in darkness. At that point the Sleep of Yavanna began, where things stopped growing.

There was then the Age of the Two trees in which light was again cast over the Undying Lands. Middle Earth and Beleriand are still under the sleep of Yavanna, however.

After the Two Trees were poisoned by Melkor, the world was again cast in darkness (apart from the stars) so the Valar forged the Sun and the Moon. When they first rose above Middle Earth, the Sleep of Yavanna ended and the Second Spring of Arda began.
Thanks Val so the Middle-earth Elves in their early years had no greenery. Perhaps that is why Aman in the time of the two trees was such a great draw to the Elves who had visited there. Later, with the advent of the Sun and Moon, and with Yavanna no longer asleep, Middle-earth also became green. From then on Valinor no longer was quite the magnet for some of the Elves.
Fancy having no greenery. NOOO!!! NOOOO!!!!!!
I think they had greenary, Grondy, it just wasn't growing. I always imagine the Sleep of Yavanna to be some sort of magical state in which the forests became frozen in time, fully grown and green, but totally dormant. The animals, too, were said to have slept through this period. As the Elves were not renowned for hacking down trees, I can see how this state could be maintained until the Second Spring of Arda. It does not explain what the Elves ate, however, unless there was plentiful bounty to start with. This later problem could explain why the Elves migrated West, though, moving on as their food became scarce. Tree cutting Dwarves would also be more of a problem too, as re-forestation would not be possible during this period.

Melian also managed to use her own powers to overcome the Sleep of Yavanna within the bounds of Doriath. In this case, I imagine the forests fed on Melian's power rather than photosynthesis for nourishment.

Interestingly, it is with the Second Spring of Arda, when everything is suddenly springing back to life, that Elves first to begin feeling weary within Middle Earth. After experiencing dormancy of the ancient forests, or the unchanging Undying Lands, this sudden rapid changing of the seasons must have come as a shock to the long-lived elves.
So... does this mean the forests didn't NEED photosynthesis cause they were frozen? But what made them grow in the first place? Was it just AYvanna? Put a plant there, sleep of yavanna, there you go. Preserved? (I'm a bit slow on the uptake today, must be my immunisation)
When Yavanna created the forests they had the light from the Two Lamps from which they could photosynthesize. The Sleep of Yavanna began when Melkor destroyed the Lamps, plubging Ea into darkness (actually quite a lot of fire and flooding, but then darkness).
Ah, I was forgetting about th elamps. But.. when the lamps were extinguished, and the world was having all these fires around the place, cause of the broken lamps, wouldn't all the foliage be shrivelled?

(I doubt Tolkien ever contemplated this.)
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(I doubt Tolkien ever contemplated this.)


From the Silmarillion - Of the Beginning of Days

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..... In the overthrow of the mighty pillars lands were broken and seas arose in turmult; and when the lamps were spilled destroying flame was poured out over the Earth. And trhe shape of Arda and the symmetry of its waters and its lands was marred in that time, so that the first designs of the Valar were never after restored.


Although he did not specifically mention the damage to the trees, I think he implied that lots would be damaged in the cataclysm.
Yeah, but the whole photosynthesis without light thing. Surely he didn't think about what would feed the remaining plants when the lamps were destroyed.
(Hey, I'm not questioning the relevance of this discussion! It's interesting.)
Oh come on Loni...... Dont be such a know it all. Leave some things to your imagination (i belive that at least you have a LOT of imagination). Thats the magic about LOTR. Knowing the details is fun, but going into detail about how the plants survived with no light for photosynthesis is too much! Thats just my opinion.....
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Knowing the details is fun, but going into detail about how the plants survived with no light for photosynthesis is too much!

Not to mention Val has already answered Loni's question : the plants survived because they were all under the Sleep of Yavanna.
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Oh come on Loni...... Dont be such a know it all. Leave some things to your imagination (i belive that at least you have a LOT of imagination). Thats the magic about LOTR.


I know.... I read LOTR too. But these mega-serious discussion threads about photosynthesis are really interesting.

Okay, let's get this straight. The plants were created by Yavanna, the Lamps provided the light. Then the Lamps were destroyed by Morgoth, which burned most of the foliage. And the Sleep of Yavanna kept the rest of the plants intact. So, after the Trees.... (am I right in my chronology?) that would mean the plants would be slowly regaining their ground. And then there were plants all over Ea. But what about when the Trees were destroyed? (I feel very stupid - I'm sure I've got the order of events all wrong?)
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But what about when the Trees were destroyed? (I feel very stupid - I'm sure I've got the order of events all wrong?)

After the Trees were destroyed, the Valar made the ship of the Moon and the ship of the Sun, steered by Tilion and Arien, respectively.

Hence, there was light.
Although the Two Trees illuminated Valinor, Middle Earth remained in twilight. During this entire period Middle Earth remained under the Sleep of Yavanna, a magical dormancy in which they obviously did not need to photosynthesize. It was only when the Sun arose for the first time that the Sleep of Yavanna ended.

Obviously, like any fantasy tale, if you delve too deep things begin to fall apart. Ea is a fantasy world in which science takes second place to magic. What is scientific fact in our world does not need to be so in Middle Earth. Maybe in Middle Earth plants don't need to photosynthesize. Maybe they can get their nourishment from the magical energies the Valar have put into the ground. Unfortunately, when you read JRR's later writings you can see him changing much of what appeared in the Silmarillion for a more scientific approach. The creation of the sun and moon, for example, was being changed to fit in with what we know of the creation of our own world. I'm pleased the original script was the one which made it into the book.
This is really confusing. And I KNOW Arda doesn't fully work and blabla... but we can pretend and make theories nonetheless.