Monograph-Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata and Tilia europaea)
Images of Linden Tree
Lime is an altered form of Middle English lind, in the 16th century also line, from Old English feminine lind or linde, Proto-Germanic *lendā, cognate to Latin lentus "flexible" and Sanskrit latā "liana". Within Germanic languages, English lithe, German lind "lenient, yielding" are from the same root.
Linden was originally the adjective, "made from lime-wood" (equivalent to "wooden"), from the late 16th century "linden" was also used as a noun, probably influenced by translations of German romance, as an adoption of Linden, the plural of German Linde. Neither the name nor the tree is related to the citrus fruit called "lime" (Citrus aurantifolia, family Rutaceae). Another widely-used common name used in North America is basswood, derived from bast, the name for the inner bark (see Uses, below). In the US, the name "lime" is used only for the citrus tree. Teil is an old name for the lime tree.
Leaf of Common Lime (Tilia × europaea) showing veination.
Latin tilia is cognate to Greek πτελέᾱ, ptelea, "elm tree", τιλίαι, tiliai, "black poplar" (Hes.), ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European word *ptel-ei̯ā with a meaning of "broad" (feminine); perhaps "broad-leaved" or similar.
The Tilia's sturdy trunk stands like a pillar and the branches divide and subdivide into numerous ramifications on which the twigs are fine and thick. In summer these are profusely clothed with large leaves and the result is a dense head of abundant foliage.
The leaves of all the Tilia species are heart-shaped and most are asymmetrical, and the tiny fruit, looking like peas, always hang attached to a curious, ribbon-like, greenish yellow bract, whose use seems to be to launch the ripened seed-clusters just a little beyond the parent tree. The flowers of the European and American Tilia species are similar, except that the American bears a petal-like scale among its stamens and the European varieties are devoid of these appendages. All of the Tilia species may be propagated by cuttings and grafting as well as by seed. They grow rapidly in a rich soil, but are subject to the attack of many insects.
In particular aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are themselves often "farmed" by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid "farming" process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.
Scholarly Research in chemistry of Linden Tree
Legends About the Linden Tree
Sometime during the Middle Ages, a Prussian tribal leader was pardoned by the ruling Teutonic Knights and thanked God by placing Mary's likeness in a local linden tree. Rumors of miraculous healing and epiphany soon attached local pilgrims to the Holy Linden (Swieta Lipka). Soon so many came to this tree, that the Teutonic Knights built a shrine to the arbor in 1320. Two hundred years later, the knights razed the Catholic chapel due to a religious reversal and slowed the believers down, by installing threatening gallows, complete with bodies, around these trees. However, the gallows eventually rotted and flocks of Germans and Poles still visited the Santuary of Our Lady. This Santuary is located near Mragowo in the Mazury region of Poland.
Lipa is the Polish name for the linden tree, and Lipiec is the Polish name for the month of July. This is most likely because lindens blossom in July, and the linden tree has always held a place in the hearts of the Polish people. Old lindens were considered sacred trees in Poland's past. They were symbols of exalted, divine power, valour, and victory. The ancient Greeks and the Slavs regarded the Linden as the habitation of their goddess of love.
Later, as Christianity came to the area, this legend was incorporated into Christianity as the tree of the Blessed Mother. In folktales, the Blessed Mother hid among the linden's branches, and revealed herself to children. Many wayside shrines were placed under linden trees for this reason. Lightning was thought never to strike a linden tree, and thus it was a "lucky" tree.
Lindens bloom in July and have fragrant creamy white to light yellow flowers. Beekeepers loved the lindens as bees gathered profusely in their blossoms. Country people and the nobilty enjoyed the product of the bees. They used honey as sweeteners, the making of mead, and beeswax for candles. Old lindens often hosted beehives in their hollowed out trunks. Bees were important and in 1401, it is said that people, in Mazowsze, passed laws to protect bees and beekeeping. People were severely punished for cutting down linden trees and thus cutting linden trees was associated with bad luck and even death of a member of the family. This is a result of the fact, that often times, a painful death was the punishment for cutting down lindens.
Rings of lindens often were the tree of choice in courtyards, markets, cemetaries, and pilgrimage chapels devoted to the Virgin Mary, and the bees, the Linden blossoms attracted, provided beeswax candles to illuminate the church.
Blooms from the linden tree were used for a therapeutic tea (with honey, of course). This drink helped colds and induced sweating that broke fevers (Knab, Sophie Hodorowicz, Polish Customs, Traditions, And Folklore. New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1998, 139-142.).
The linden tree was loved by all Polish people and it stands for family, faith, and the good life. Read "Ode to a Linden Tree."
THE LINDEN TREE - Lore and Significance
Written by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska
Keynote: Keep the child and dreamer in you alive; follow your heart.
The linden tree is a member of the basswood family. It is sometimes called the lime tree but it is not of the citrus variety. In both Europe and America there has been much mysticism associated with it. It is a tree whose spirit can teach healing and the ability to see the beauty beyond outer surfaces. She is the spirit of the mystic, the poet, the dreamer, and the child--all of whom have the ability to see beyond appearances. This is refleced in its heart-shaped leaves and in the fact that the undersid of the leaves is shiny and not the upper surface as in most trees.
Linden is the spirit than can reveal the sweet honey of all life situations. In the spring, bees are drawn to the linden nectar, and the honey differs from the honey of other flowers. It is lighter. The linden tree spirit reiminds us of the dreams we have tucked away to the back of our hearts and it awakens the inner desire and strength to follow them.
In Europe, there has been a close association between the cuckoo and the linden tree. The spirit of the linden will often take the form of a cuckoo to leave the tree itself, and the cuckoo has long been the source of great supersition and inspiration. The cuckoo is often the herald of spring, the time of rebirth. In parts of Europe, it was also the herald of death and marriage, all of which are symbolic of great transformation. The linden tree spirit holds the knowledge to life, death and transformation - and the true beauty and sweetness in those processes, no matter what form they take for the individual. If the linden speaks to you, then you should study the cuckoo as a totem as well.
In America, the linden tree has had much association with the Iroquois False Face Society. Indian masks of North America often represented spirits that influence life. A person could only become a member of the False Face Society if he or she had been cured by someone in it. The individual also had to dream of the spirit, and the dream had to be confirmed by another member of the society. In the dream, the spirit instructs the individual how to make a healing mask that represents the spirit. The making of that mask was very ritualistic. A tree would be picked out, and often it was a linden tree. The bark would be peeled from a section, and then an outline of the mask would be carved into the tree. The mask was then to be cut out of the tree without harming the tree. This reflects the basic essence of the linden tree spirit - whether in Europe or America. She teaches how to work with the inner spirit to heal and transform and to find the beauty and joy in all transformations. She teaches that suffering is only good for the soul if it teaches us how not to suffer again.
Linden trees remind us to follow our heart and pursue our dreams. It is a reminder that our dreams are never lost, only forgotten. I tis a reminder that for dreams to manifest, we must pursue them.
*Encyclopedia of Signs, Omens, and Superstitions/Zolar
For the Germans, this tree consecrated to Venus is said to guard villages and families. On May Day, dances around its trunk are common.
Linden tree is used in traditional medicine primarily as a non-narcotic sedative for sleep disorders or
anxiety (Adame and Adame, 2000; Martinez,1989), although, paradoxically, it has also been regarded
as a stimulant (Foster and Tyler, 2000; Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977). In medieval times, Linden
flower was used as a diaphoretic, to promote sweating and for the treatment of chills and colds
(Pahlow, 2001; Foster and Tyler, 2000; Pierce, 1999).
The bract and flower infusion (tea) is also employed against ailments of the upper respiratory tract, due
to the expectorant and antiseptic action of its constituents (Gruenwald et al., et al., 2000; Berdoncés
1998). Linden tree is also a popular remedy against insomnia and anxiety throughout Latin America
(Viola et al. 1994). Other less common uses of Linden include it as a digestive aid and to help decrease
high blood pressure, as well as to treat arteriosclerosis (Duke et al., 2002; Ody, 2000; Bremness 2000;
Arteche and Vanaclocha, 1998).
The carbon (charcoal) made from the twigs and inner bark is considered as extremely adsorbent and
useful against diarrhea and intoxications, as it acts in the same fashion as activated charcoal, adsorbing. some of the toxins (Starek 2001; Gruenwald et al., 2000; Berdoncés, 1998). The charcoal is also
employed externally against skin ulcerations (Gruenwald et al., 2000).
Honey made from nectar of the Linden tree is purported to be the most prized in the world, being used
as part of medicinal preparations and liqueurs ( Bremness 2000; Berdoncés 1998)
Flavonoids including: quercitrin, kaempferol, astragalin, hyperoside, among others (Mc Cann,
2003; Bruneton 2000; Gruenwald et al., 2000; Toker et al., 2000; Arteche and Vananclocha,
Mucilage (10%) including arabino galactans, uronic acid; other carbohydrates (Arteche and
Vananclocha, 1998; Kram and Franz, 1985).
Tannins (2%): the relation between tannin and mucilage content is very important and related
to pleasant flavor (Schulz et al., 2001; Mc Cann, 2003; Foster and Tyler, 2000).
Derivatives of Caffeic acid, such as chlorogenic acid.
Flower and bract are ingested as infusions (teas) against anxiety and insomnia (Adame and
Adame 2000; Miller and Murray 1998; Viola et al. 1994; Martinez 1989; Chiej 1983).
As a diaphoretic, to promotes sweating (Mc Cann, 2003; Schulz et al. 2001; Bruneton 2000;
Foster and Tyler 2000; Gruenwald et al., 2000; Weiss and Fintelmann 2000).
As a digestive tonic and to cure intestinal disorders (Gruenwald et al., 2000; Bremness 2000).
The bract and flower infusion is also employed against ailments of the upper respiratory tract,
due to the expectorant and antiseptic action of its constituents (Schulz et al. 2001; Chevallier
2000; Gruenwald et al., 2000; Arteche and Vananclocha, 1998; Bremness 2000).
To treat high blood pressure due to proposed vasodilatory effect (Bremness, 2000; Ody, 2000;
Arteche and Vanaclocha, 1998).
As a mild diuretic (Barnes et al., 2002; Gruenwald et al., 2000; Arteche and Vanaclocha, 1998).
Against migraine headaches (Foster and Tyler 2000), especially those due to hepato-biliary
(liver and gall bladder) dysfunction (Arteche and Vanaclocha, 1998)
“Linden water” is used as a skin tonic to soothe rheumatic pain (Bremness, 2000)
The alcoholic extracts of the flowers have antimicrobial properties, especially against some
types of bacteria that may cause oral cavity infections (Suciu et al., 1988).
Germany’s Commission E has approved Linden flower for the treatment of cough and
bronchitis (Gruenwald et al., 2000; Blumenthal, 2000).
Linden flowers contain antioxidant and free radical scavenging compounds (Choi et al., 2002;
Yildirim et al., 2000).
The charcoal made from the inner bark (known in Spanish as albura), taken internally, serves
as an adsorbent to treat intoxications and diarrhea (Starek, 2001; Arteche and Vanaclocha,
Topically, the charcoal made from the inner bark is used to treat skin abrasions and ulcers
(Arteche and Vanaclocha, 1998).
To the ancients the Lindens seem to have appealed rather by their utility than by their beauty. It is doubtful whether Aristophanes, in the allusion to the tree in his "Birds," is merely speaking of a rival poet as being light as Linden-wood, or is accusing him more specifically of wearing an effeminate article of dress, strengthened in those days by laths of Linden-wood in place of the whale-bone now usual. Pliny, too, alludes to the lightness of the wood, as well as to the use of the inner bark for paper, when it was known as liber (so becoming extended to books, and giving us the word "library"), and also for tying garlands; whilst Virgil, in the words (Georgics, Book I.):
"A light linden-tree also is felled betimes for the yoke," is referring to the use of its wood in the making of the plough.
Botanists must ever look with reverence upon this tree; for whether or not a meadow encircled by a hedgerow of Lindens gave the family name to our own great botanist, Lindley, it is tolerably certain that one of these trees growing near the home of his ancestors furnished a cognomen to a far greater than Lindley, the immortal Carl von Linne, better known as Linnaeus.
Apart from any associations, however, the Lindens are sufficiently beautiful and sufficiently useful to command attention. They are straight-stemmed trees, with smooth bark, either round-topped, or, when more perfectly developed, draped in equal drooping boughs from the ground to their summits, eighty or ninety feet in height, so as to present a grand columnar aspect. Then, as the poet says--
"all about the large lime feathers low--
The lime, a summer home of murmurous wings"
They may reach five, or even nine, feet in diameter, the latter being the size of the famous tree that gave the town of Neustadt, in Wurtemberg, the name of "Neustadt an der grossen Linden." The delicate leaves are lop-sided, heart-shaped, and gracefully toothed along their margins; the greenish flowers, overflowing with honey and sweetly scented, are borne in stalked clusters of three or four on a curious, adherent, leaf-like bract, which becomes of a buff tint; and the fruits that succeed them are small spherical capsules, which but rarely, however, ripen in England.
Though, owing to their retaining their leaves later into the autumn, some American species are recommended as preferable to the above for avenues--the great ornamental use of the Linden--the European forms cannot be denied to have a choice beauty of their own. In early spring, the red-tinted twigs, like branching coral, bear buds which throw off scales, or "stipules," blushing pink and white, only to reveal the first delicate gloss of the tender leaf. The leaves then hang vertically downwards, and the older ones are so folded over the younger as in every way to protect them as far as possible from the nipping effects of excessive radiation in our frosty May nights. It is said, moreover, to be the mode of their arrangement in the buds that produces, as it were mechanically, the graceful one-sidedness in the outline of their base which is not un-common among forest trees. The leaves are also at this season more gracefully tapered at the apex than later, when they increase in breadth; and the charm of their pendent position and bright and graceful greenery naturally suggested cheerfulness to Chaucer, when he wrote, in his "Clerke's Tale" :--
"Be ay of chere as light as lefe on Linde."
It was, too, at this, the season of its virginal beauty, that Mrs. Browning paid her more explicit tribute to the Linden, of which she wrote :--
'Here a Linden-tree stood, bright'ning
All adown its silver rind;
For, as some trees draw the lightning,
So this tree, unto my mind,
Drew to earth the blessed sunshine
From the sky where it was shrined"
In summer its foliage becomes duller in tone, as do most leaves, from the dense accumulation of their green coloring matter, or chlorophyll, and of other substances within their cells. The tree, however, then acquires a new beauty--that of blossom. The curious membranous bracts, of a tint resembling the petals of the mignonette--a tint which gave to the silk-mercer the name tilleul for one of his numerous novelties in aniline--then unfold their inconspicuous flowers. Inconspicuous they may be in their small, regular whorls of greenish organs; but their perfume, and their copious stores of nectar, render them as attractive to the insect world as the most gaily-colored of blossoms, so that the whole tree hums like a vast living hive of bees. The pale-colored honey made by the busy visitors from the Linden blossoms is of excellent quality.
Autumn brings new grace as the foliage turns to yellow, clear in some years as the green of spring; but, alas! even more fleeting. The avenue which has been so full of green and golden light, and scented so sweetly, soon becomes strewn with fallen leaves, from which the green and gold have faded, as the hopes and happiness of youth fade in the autumn of disappointment.
The sap of the Linden can be fermented into an agreeable wine; its wood makes a fine charcoal, and is used for musical instruments, while the bark is in Germany used in the manufacture of cordage.
It seems, however, to be mean and petty to be thinking of the uses to which its dead body can be put, when in the presence of the majestic beauty of a living Linden, rising in its columnar form like some gigantic Norman pillar of verdure from the park or lawn. Were it absolutely useless as timber or for other purposes, were it even destitute of its mellifluous flowers with their delicious perfume, the Linden would yet, for the sake of its form and its foliage alone, deserve to be a favorite tree; and it is fortunate that, though its excessive formation of honey-dew is somewhat of a drawback to its use in gardens, it is fairly able to withstand London smoke, and thus precedes the planes and poplars in enlivening our parks and squares. It submits meekly to the pruning-knife, and, horribile dictu! the saw, of the suburban gardener, and, as a consequence of this patience, may be seen in too many places butchered into carcases that even the beautifying and healing hand of Nature in spring can hardly succeed in rendering aught but repulsive.
It is undoubtedly a regrettable circumstance that, as they precede many other trees in unfolding, so too the leaves of the Linden precede those of most other trees in falling, and remind us, as they litter our lawns, of the approach of autumn. But at that season we still have our planes in full verdure; and even sycamores and horse-chestnuts, not to mention oaks and elms, show no signs as yet of leaving us a mere mass of melancholy boughs.
The small-leaved linden tree which grows in moist, clay soil and has clusters of small, yellow-white fragrant flowers hanging from slender stems, is common throughout Denmark. It’s planted in gardens, parks and along road sides, city streets and boulevards. Linden honey is one of those honey varieties that will completely change the misconception of those who think that honey is no more than just sugared water. It has a light yellow color and a very distinctive yet delicate fresh woody scent. Because of its sedative and antiseptic qualities, it’s one of my favorite honey varieties before bedtime. It is recommended in cases of anxiety and insomnia, whereby honey can be combined with a bath of linden blossoms before sleep. Linden honey is also used in the treatment of colds, cough and bronchitis.
Benefits of Honey