From Tolkien Gateway


The Forest of Lothlórien in Spring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The description of the mellyrn:

LR, ‘Lothlórien’:

For in the autumn their [the mellyrn’s] leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey.

LR, 'The Grey Havens':

… it [the mallorn of the Shire] had silver bark and long leaves and burst into golden flowers in April …

UT, ‘A Description of the Island of Númenor’:

Its [the mallorn’s] bark was silver and smooth, and its boughs somewhat upswept after the manner of the beech; but it never grew save with a single trunk. Its leaves, like those of the beech but greater, were pale green above and beneath were silver glistering in the sun; in the autumn they did not fall, but turned to pale gold. In the spring it bore golden blossom in clusters like a cherry, which bloomed on during the summer; and as soon as the flowers opened the leaves fell, so that through spring and summer a grove of malinornë [mallorn] was carpeted and roofed with gold, but its pillars were of grey silver.

Some readers might have noticed that the mellyrn remind us of the Golden Tree of Valinor, Laurelin. Indeed I believe that they very much resembled that tree:

Morgoth’s Ring, ‘The Later Quenta Silmarillion’:

The other [Laurelin] bore leaves of a young green like the new-opened beech; their edges were of glittering gold. Flowers swung upon her branches like clusters of yellow flame, formed each to a glowing horn that spilled a golden rain upon the ground; and from the blossom of that tree there came forth warmth and a great light.

BOLT1, ‘The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor’:

Of a great shapeliness and goodly growth was that stock [of Laurelin], and nought was there to break its smooth rind, which glowed faintly with a yellow light, for a vast height above the earth. Then did fair boughs thrust overhead in all directions, and golden buds swelled from all the twigs and lesser branches, and from these burst leaves of a rich green whose edges shone. Already was the light that that tree gave wide and fair, but as the Valar gazed it put forth blossom in exceeding great profusion, so that all its boughs were hidden by long swaying clusters of gold flowers like a myriad hanging lamps of flame, and light spilled from the tips of these and splashed upon the ground with a sweet noise.

Laurelin looked like the tree laburnum, ‘Golden rain’:

The Lost Road, ‘Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings’, ‘Of Valinor and the Two Trees’:

Yellow flowers swung upon her [Laurelin’s] branches like the hanging blossom of those trees Men now call Golden-rain

In Tolkien’s drawing ‘The Forest of Lothlórien in Spring’ (see top-right corner), mallorn-trees with their flowers and leaves are depicted. Cf. this real-life depiction of the ‘Golden Rain’:

It is apparent that the mallorn and the Golden Rain do look fairly similar, although one cannot be sure.

Also, it seems that Galadriel had a special liking or longing for Laurelin; it is apparent that she wanted to keep trees that resembled it in her realm in Middle-earth. Even a name for Lórien that was due to Galadriel, Laurelindórinan ‘Land of the Valley of Singing Gold, which referred to the mallorn-trees, can be taken as meaning ‘Land of the Valley of Laurelin’.

UT, ‘The History of Galadriel and Celeborn’, note 5:

From many other discussions of the names of Lothlórien, to some extent at variance among themselves, it emerges that all the later names were probably due to Galadriel herself, combining different elements: laurë "gold," nan(d) "valley," ndor "land," lin- "sing"; and in Laurelindórinan "Valley of Singing Gold" (which Treebeard told the Hobbits was the earlier name) deliberately echoing the name of the Golden Tree that grew in Valinor, "for which, as is plain, Galadriel's longing increased year by year to, at last, an overwhelming regret."

The name mallorn actually means ‘golden tree’:

Vinyar Tengwar #42, ‘The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor’:

In the transcription of Elvish Sindarin in The Lord of the Rings ll is used in the manner of modern Welsh for the medial voiceless l; as in mallorn < malhorn < malþorn < malt ‘gold' and orn ‘tree’.

However, the tree that Galadriel sang of in the Song of Eldamar cannot be Laurelin, for that grew not in Eldamar but outside Valimar.

LR, ‘Farewell to Lórien’:

Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years, ...

This is a bit strange considering the previously quoted passages that point to a special liking or longing for Laurelin on Galadriel's part. Why did Galadriel not sing of Laurelin itself? The tree in Eldamar probably resembled Laurelin closely. But I think that one can assume that the mellyrn of Lothlórien were Galadriel’s ‘Laurelins’, or at least her 'golden Trees' - this was their main purpose.


Telperion looked like a Silver cherry:

The Return of the Shadow, 'The Attack on Weathertop':

For as it is told the Blessed Realms of the West were illumined by the Two Trees, Galathilion [Telperion] the Silver Cherry ...


(to be continued)