Updated: Mar 26, 2020
The linden tree (Tilia cordata), also known as littleleaf linden, is a common street tree where I live in the US northeast. Broad and dense, linden trees generally have a pyramidal shape and provide wonderful shade. Lindens grow slowly but can reach 60 feet or more. They do fairly well in the difficult conditions of urban settings (pollution, compaction, poor drainage) which makes for a hardy street tree.
Lindens are fairly disease-resistant although a common problem is aphid infestations in the summer. Aphids generally do not harm the tree but produce a sticky substance called "honeydew." If you have ever parked under a linden in the summer to find your car covered in a sticky substance, this is honeydew from the aphids up above!
Linden flowers have a sweet fragrance and produce abundant nectar, making them a favorite of honey bees. Linden tea is generally made from the flowers but is sometimes made from the leaves or bark.
How to identify a linden tree:
- asymmetrical heart-shaped leaves with toothed or "serrate" margins
- typically one sturdy, main trunk (leader) with dense branching; branches droop as tree ages
- tiny yellow, fragrant flowers (early summer) attached to wing-like bracts
- Fall color - yellow
Linden trees belong to the Malvacea family (Mallow) to which belong hundreds of other species including hibiscus, cotton, hollyhocks, and cacao.