Linden Tree: Interesting Facts, Uses, & More

The linden tree is also known as Tilla, lime, or basswood. Lime and linden are the names used in Britain. Linden, lime, and basswood are the names used in North America.

Though they are called lime trees in Britain, they share no relation to the lime fruit.

In North America, they are referred to as basswood. This name came about from the inner bark of the tree known as the bast. Fibers obtained from the bark were used to make ropes, mats, and fabrics.

The linden is the national tree of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Slavic mythology says that the linden (lipa, as called in all Slavic languages) is a sacred tree. In Poland, many villages have the name “Święta Lipka” (or similar), which means “Holy Lime”.

Location

Most species of linden are native to the temperate areas of the Nothern Hemisphere. There are around 30 species of linden. Linden trees grow in Europe, North America, and Asia.

Growth

Lindens grow in moist, fertile soil where drainage and aeration are good. Linden trees grow in full sun but can thrive in partial shade as well. This tree grows symmetrically making it an attractive ornamental tree.

Linden trees.

Most species of linden trees are large and deciduous. They usually grow to heights between 65 to 130 feet tall.

Young linden trees have smooth grey barks. As they mature, the barks turn to brown and develop shallow fissures.

Leaves & Flowers

The leaves of the linden tree are broad, heart-shaped, and asymmetrical. The tips are pointed and the edges are serrated. Linden leaves span 2 1⁄4 to 7 3⁄4 inches across.

Linden Tree Leaves.

The leaves are green and fuzzy during the spring. During autumn, they turn yellow.

During late spring, linden trees sprout cream to yellow flowers. Each cluster is usually 2 to 10 flowers. The flowers are fragrant (sweet to smell).

Linden Flowers

Lindens are hermaphroditic. This means that they have both male and female flowers. Pollination occurs via insect and natural transfer.

Pollinated flowers develop into round-oval fruit. The fruits are slightly ribbed with a pointed tip.

Linden tree fruit.

Bark/Wood

Linden wood is used in furniture making, picture frames, printing boards, pencils, etc. It is also widely used for intricate carvings.

It is also known for its acoustic properties. So much so that linden wood is popular for making the bodies of electric guitars and bass bodies.

Some percussion manufacturers also use linden wood to make drum shells. This enhances both the sound and aesthetics of the instruments.

Uses

Honey made from linden flowers is pale but deliciously flavored. Linden flowers are also used to make herbal tea and it is also used in herbal medicine.

Linden flower tea has a pleasant taste. The aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers adds to the flavor.

Flowers, leaves, wood, and even the charcoal (from the wood) are used in medicine.

Linden tea.

Flavonoids (antioxidants) and volatile oils are the main active ingredients in linden flowers. The linden plant also contains tannins. These tannins may act as an astringent.

In herbalism, linden flowers help treat colds, coughs, fevers, and other illnesses. It is also used as a mild sedative.

References

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