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John Howe - Ents.jpg
"Ents" by John Howe
General Information
Other namesOnodrim (S)
Onyalië (Q)
Shepherds of the Trees, Wood-demons
OriginsCreated by Ilúvatar at Yavanna's request
LocationsEriador, East Beleriand, Fangorn Forest, Treegarth of Orthanc
LanguagesEntish, Elvish, Westron
MembersTreebeard, Quickbeam
Physical Description
LifespanUnknown, but obviously very longeval
DistinctionsTree-like appearance
Average heightVery tall; several yards/meters
Skin colorEarthy colors
GalleryImages of Ents

The Ents were sentient, humanoid beings created at the request of Yavanna to protect the trees from other creatures, particularly Dwarves,[1] and thus were called "Shepherds of the Trees".



The Ents were the most ancient living creatures surviving in Middle-earth in the Third Age.[2][3] The Ents are a free people of their own kind, very similiar in origin to the Dwarves.[note 1] In fact, "when Yavanna discovered the mercy of Eru to Aulë in the matter of the Dwarves, she besought Eru (through Manwë) asking him to give life" to the Ents, so that "the Ents were either souls sent to inhabit trees, or else that slowly took the likeness of trees owing to their inborn love of trees".[4][5]

Ents are the Shepherds of the Trees, as far as they were desired by Yavanna to protect the forests from Orcs, Dwarves and other perils.[5] The males were devoted to Oromë while the Entwives to Yavanna.[4] They were created around the same time as the Elves.[6] The Eldar[note 2] loved to talk to everything and had tales of teaching the trees to talk. They gave them the desire to speak and taught them Elvish.[2] Treebeard said the Elves "curing the Ents of their dumbness" was a great gift that could not be forgotten.[7]

Before even Morgoth returned to the North the first Ents were not as wise or strong as in later times. They developed a language, Entish, which was much simpler back then, and had very small knowledge of other languages.[4]

Rise and decline[edit]

As Elrond said "Time was once when a squirrel could carry a nut from tree to tree from Rivendell to the Great Sea...".[8] Nearly all of Eriador was one huge forest and part of Entish domain. Some Ents passed into East Beleriand and perhaps Tasarinan.[7] An Ent-host showed up near Dolmed and helped Beren against the Dwarves of Nogrod who sacked Doriath and slew King Thingol; the Dwarves were driven to the shadow woods of Ered Lindon and no-one managed to exit.[9][10]

Farewell to Fangorn by Luca Bonatti

There used to be Entwives, but during the First or the Second Age they started to move farther away from the Ents because they liked to plant and control small things like vegetables, grass and flowers while the male Ents tended the larger trees of the great forest.[6] The Entwives passed the Anduin and went to the region that would later become the Brown Lands. After Morgoth was overthrown, their gardens blossomed and they taught Men agriculture who honored them.[7]

But a time came in the Second Age when these immense forests were cut by the Númenóreans[11] or destroyed in the calamitous War of the Elves and Sauron during the 17th century of that Age. The shrinking of the forest solidified their separation from the Entwives. The Fangorn Forest was just the Eastern End of that immense forest, and one of its small remnants. The gardens of the Entwives were destroyed by Sauron, and they disappeared. The Ents looked for them in vain and it is sung by the Ents that one day they will find each other but there is very scarce hope that they survived.[12]

In the Third Age, the Fangorn Forest was apparently the only place Ents still inhabited, although the Ent-like Huorns may still have survived elsewhere, as in the Old Forest. The Ents grew old without hope of having Entings without the Entwives. Some grew 'treeish' and ceased moving or speaking.[6]

Halfast Gamgee reportedly encountered a "Tree-man" near the Shire.[13]

Last March[edit]

The Ents Destroy Isengard by John Howe
"The Ents are going to war!"

About T.A. 2950 Saruman's armies began harassing the few remaining Ents and cutting down large numbers of their trees. During the War of the Ring the Ents—usually a very patient, deliberate people—were spurred by Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. They convened an Entmoot, a meeting of the Ents at Derndingle.

After lengthy deliberation (though from the perspective of the Ents, this was very quick action), they marched on Saruman's fortress at Isengard: the last march of the Ents. They were led by Treebeard, the oldest Ent, and accompanied by the Hobbits Merry and Pippin. They destroyed Isengard in an all-out assault and trapped Saruman in the tower of Orthanc. They flooded Nan Curunír and transformed it into a forested area which they called Treegarth of Orthanc.

Not only that, but a few days later, they defended Rohan when Eastemnet was invaded by hostile forces.[14]

Following the reunification of Arnor and Gondor, Treegarth became a part of the Reunited Kingdom and King Elessar declared it an Entish realm, granting the Ents complete self-governance.[15]

The Ents remained in Fangorn where they probably dwindled in the following Ages,[6] but Galadriel wished to Treebeard that they would meet again in Tasarinan, when Beleriand is lifted again from the waves, in Spring.[15]


The Tree Shepherds by Ted Nasmith

Ents were 14-foot tall creatures like humanoid trees with very thick skin resembling tree bark. They resembled the trees that they shepherded. An individual Ent more or less resembled the specific species of tree that they typically guarded or honored, to the point of the personality one might expect from that tree.[6] Thus they varied in height and size, colouring, and in number of fingers and toes. For example, Quickbeam guarded rowan trees and thus looked very much like a rowan.

There were trees that were awake or half-awake, and some were entish and Ents could awake or talk with some of them. Treebeard aroused some Huorns to destroy Isengard.[16]

Ents were dwelling in Ent-houses and were nourished by Ent-draughts. They were immortal (although they could be damaged or killed with sufficient force) and along with it, they were deliberate and slow in thought, decision and action. Their slow, long-winded language reflected this; of other languages they preferred Quenya, which they also spoke in an agglutinating, long-winded way like Entish.

However, once aroused, they possessed great strength, which resembled the age-long action of trees accelerated, crushing rocks and moving earth in seconds.[6] Though susceptible to pain, their thick skin made them very difficult to harm with metal weapons (they are much more vulnerable to fire). Treebeard boasted that they were much more powerful than Trolls, which Morgoth supposedly made as imitations of the Ents (he compares this with how Orcs were an imitation of Elves).

The length of an ent-stride was about 4 feet. With about 2.2 strides per second, an Ent could cover a speed of about 6 miles per hour[17]


See also: etten

Ent is supposed to represent the language of the Vales of Anduin[18] and is perhaps a name given to them by the Rohirrim.[6]

The word Ent is derived from Old English ent, meaning "giant", although the Ents were unrelated to the giants or the jotuns.[18][19] It has been noted that ent "probably means some kind of giant", but that the exact usage or meaning of the word in Old English is unknown.[20]

Other names[edit]

The Sindarin name for Ents, as a race, is Onodrim, and as individuals Onod (pl. Enyd).[18] The Quenya name of the Ents is possibly Onyalië, with the individual being *Onya.[21]


At several points, Tolkien specifically stated that the Ents were a spontaneous invention while writing Treebeard (chapter), without any recollection of previous thought or premeditation.[22][23][4]

In another point, Tolkien admitted that the Ents perhaps had a remote influence from the animate trees of the Fairy Land in George MacDonald's Phantastes.[24] Whilst in a letter to W.H. Auden, Tolkien notes that they were perhaps borne from his own frustration with Shakespeare's Macbeth: "Their part in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill'".[25]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit]

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Ents in The Lord of the Rings (film series) were portrayed as, perhaps, more tree-ish than in the books. For example, the books describe them as having smooth skin; the movie has them with skin like thick and rough bark. In the movie adaptation, the Ents at the Entmoot decide that this is "not our war", despite strong protest from Merry. The scene is also shorter, cutting out Bregalad completely; Treebeard is the only Ent who is named and speaks on screen.
Treebeard is about to take them north to the border, when Pippin insists that they go South instead, because "the closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm". This "does not make sense" to Treebeard, but he does as they ask, and sees the ruin and destruction that Saruman has wrought on southern Fangorn. Treebeard then calls the Ents to battle with his booming Ent-call, and they appear out of the forest as if they had been standing there waiting for it. That they do not know the borders of their own forest is another possible logical gap. But others have accepted Jackson's technique as valid, because of the seemingly minor actions of Merry and Pippin throughout The Two Towers.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game):

Multiple Ents make appearance during the Fangorn Forest mission, destroying Saruman's Uruks fleeing from Helm's Deep, although as non-playable characters.

2003: Sierra's War of the Ring:

A Summoned Ent is the strongest magic power available to the Free Peoples; an Ent's strength is equal only to the Balrog on the Evil site.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

In the storyline missions, Ents are assisting Merry and Pippin in the escape from the Uruks as well as destroying Isengard concurrent with the Battle of Helm's Deep. In the skirmish mode, Ents can be summoned both as a "Magic" power by all free peoples and as permanent units by the Rohan faction.

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Ents are units of the Elven faction and can be summoned in battles.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Before the release of the Rise of Isengard expansion, the only Ent appearing in the game was the one called Longbough, who could be found in the Eavespires in Evendim.[26] The Rise of Isengard expansion and subsequent updates introduced more Ent characters, among them Quickbeam, Gnarlstump, Thickbark, Greylimb, and Twistroot. A creature similar to Ents is called Bog-lurker, said to have assisted the Ents in shepherding the trees.[27]

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Ents are featured in the game as playable chacters, with their appearance being based on that of The Lord of the Rings film series.


  1. See Eagles: Origin and nature for more details.
  2. Possibly Eldar of the Great March.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Other Races"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131, (undated, written late 1951)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 247, (dated 20 September 1963)
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Aulë and Yavanna"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, entry "Ents"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Treebeard"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 248, (dated 5 October 1963)
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  15. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Many Partings"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Flotsam and Jetsam"
  17. Tolkien's calculations in Marquette paper MSS 4/2/19[source?]
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 756-7
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, "Appendix C: Old English Poem of Attila", p. 376 (note 17)
  20. Michael D.C. Drout, "An Anglo-Saxonist Gets his Fifteen Minutes: or, what happens when the media briefly pay attention" at Old English Newsletter Online (accessed 10 March 2011)
  21. Analysis of the phrase Anaxartaron Onyalië by Patrick H. Wynne
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 162, (dated 18 April 1955)
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 180, (dated 14 January 1956)
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Letter to L.M. Cutts" (letter), Sotheby's English Literature, History, Fine Bindings, Private Press Books, Children's Books, Illustrated Books and Drawings 10 July 2003
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 163, (dated 7 June 1955)
  26. Longbough at Lotro-wiki.com (accessed 23 September 2011)
  27. Monster: Bog-lurker at Lorebook.Lotro.com (accessed 23 September 2011)
Treebeard (Fangorn) · Leaflock (Finglas) · Skinbark (Fladrif) · Quickbeam (Bregalad) · Beechbone · Fimbrethil (Wandlimb)