Greenspire linden tree problems

Diseases Of Linden Trees – How To Recognize A Sick Linden Tree

American linden trees (Tilia americana) are loved by homeowners for their lovely shape, deep foliage and beautiful fragrance. A deciduous tree, it thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Unfortunately, this attractive tree is susceptible to multiple diseases. Some of the linden tree diseases can impact a tree’s appearance or vigor. For a rundown of the diseases of linden trees and other linden tree problems, read on.

Leaf Spot Linden Tree Problems

Leaf spots are common diseases of linden trees. You can recognize these linden tree diseases by circular or splotchy spots on the leaves. They grow larger and merge over time. These leaves fall prematurely.

Leaf spot diseases of linden trees can be caused by many different fungi. These include an anthracnose fungus and the leaf spot fungus Cercospora microsera. Sick linden trees weaken because photosynthesis is interrupted. In order to deal with leaf spot, prune out infected twigs when the trees are dormant. Also, rake up fallen leaves and destroy them.

Verticillium Wilt on Lindens

If you have a sick linden tree, your tree might have verticillium wilt, which is one of the most common linden tree diseases. This is also a fungal disease that starts in the soil. It enters the tree through root wounds.

The fungus enters the tree’s xylem, infects the branches, and spreads to the leaves. The symptoms of a sick linden tree with this disease include leaves dropping prematurely. Unfortunately, treatment of this disease is nearly impossible.

Canker Linden Tree Problems

If you see sunken areas of dead tissue on your linden tree trunk or branches, it may have another of the most common linden tree problems – canker. The dead spots are usually caused by fungi. If your sick linden tree has cankers, prune off the affected branches as soon as you notice the damage. Prune well below the bottom of each canker into healthy tissue.

If cankers appear on a tree’s trunk, it is not possible to eliminate the canker. Give the tree top care in order to prolong its life.

Other Diseases of Linden Trees

Powdery mildew is another common issue with lindens, and easily recognizable by the white powdery substance that covers leaves and even shoots. New growth can be distorted. The best thing to do is to plant the tree where it gets lots of sunlight and the air can circulate. Don’t give the tree a lot of nitrogen either.

Problems of Linden

Because honeybees are attracted in large numbers during flowering season, that may create a concern for folks who are allergic to bee stings. To complicate the matter a bit, these trees have lots of pollen but because of their size and structure they are imperfectly pollinated by the bees and other pollinating insects. Consequently a good deal of the pollen becomes airborne. This pollen can be allergenic to folks vulnerable to such a problem. Usually the problem exists under and around the tree and does not affect folks living down the street.
Surface Roots Appear Above Soil Level
Linden Trees are often found growing roots above the surface of the soil. That is usually because they are growing in compacted soils. For solutions see the file Dealing With Surface Tree Roots
Leaves Curled, Distorted
Aphids – Linden aphids are yellow and black with translucent wings. They are the size of a pinhead. They cluster on tree leaves and stems, especially tender new growth, and suck plant juices. Their feeding retards or distorts tree development. They exude a sticky substance that may attract ants. Leaves may turn yellow or brown, wilt under bright sunlight, or sometimes curl and pucker.
Trees Defoliated, Brown Egg Masses On Trunk
Gypsy Moth -Gypsy moth caterpillars grow from about 1/16 inch long at hatching to about 2-1/2 inches long by the time they become pupae. Mature larvae are covered with black hairs and have 5 pairs of blue spots, 6 pairs of red spots along the back, and voracious appetites. In July, they encase themselves in brown shells the trunks of trees to pupate. Gypsy moth larvae are often confused with the eastern tent caterpillar and fall webworm, both of which make silken tents in trees. Gypsy moths do not make tents. Seek out the distinctive sawdust-colored egg-masses on trunks, branches, under your roof eaves, and other protected spots. The eggs look like little gold pearls. Uncontrolled, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate a tree completely.
Leaves, Shoots Damaged, Sawdust Visible means Borers
Borers – Adult linden borers are yellowish brown or olive colored beetles. About 3/4 inch long, they have three dark spots on each wing cover. They emerge late in summer and feed on leaves and tender shoots before laying eggs in the bark. Linden borer larvae are slender, white, worms about 1 inch long. After they hatch, they tunnel into the wood, pushing sawdust out of the entrance hole as they progress. They make cavities in trunks and branches causing them to break off. These tunnels give disease and decay bacteria access to the tree. Other borers that attack lindens are the flat-headed apple tree borer and the brown wood borer. About the only way to control borers once they have begun to burrow is to dig them out of their tunnels with a flexible wire or stuff their tunnels with a nicotine paste.
Holes In Leaves
Japanese Beetles – Adult Japanese beetles are ½-inch long, with shiny metallic green and copper-brown wing covers. Their larvae (grubs) are grayish-white, with dark brown heads. These ¾-inch plump worms lie in the soil in a distinctive arc-shaped resting posture. They emerge early in July as beetles and proceed to feed on plant and tree foliage, often skeletonizing leaves.
Leaves Mined or Blotched
Basswood Leaf Miner – Both basswood leaf miner beetles and their larvae feed on leaf undersides. The small, reddish-yellow adult beetles eat out leaf tissues from between the veins. The larvae raise large blister-like mines. Linden foliage turns brown, withers and falls off.
Leaf Edges Brown, Then Whole Leaf
Anthracnose – This is the most destructive of several leaf diseases that occasionally attack trees. A fungus causes it. Leaf edges begin to turn brown and eventually the entire leaf browns and drops off. Ends of shoots look as if they were frost bitten. Serious attacks may defoliate entire trees. Prune away heavily infected branches. Make every effort to maintain plant vigor by attentive feeding and watering.
Reddish-Brown Spots on Bark
Canker – Several fungi cause pinhead sized reddish-brown spots on the bark of linden branches and twigs. These break through the bark surface, providing access for other diseases and pests to invade the tree. Prune out all cankered branches and twigs and collect any that have fallen to the ground. Destroy them.
White Coating on Leaves
Powdery Mildew – Lindens are quite susceptible to powdery mildew. A fungus that develops primarily on the tops of linden leaves causes it. These whitish blotches form well into the growing season. While this fungus makes trees look unattractive, it is not truly harmful.
Circular Brown Spots on Leaves
Leaf Blight. – This fungus causes round, brown spots with dark edges to form on linden leaves. They are often so numerous that they cause the entire leaf to turn brown and fall off. Young trees tend to be more vulnerable to this disease than older, established ones. Be sure to gather and destroy the infected leaves that fall on the ground.
Brown Spots Along Veins
Leaf Blotch – This fungus usually attacks only European type lindens. It causes narrow pale brown spots to develop along the leaf veins, especially near the tip. Eventually an obvious narrow, black stripe appears, dividing the healthy from diseased leaf tissue. In severe attacks a tree may become defoliated. Be sure to gather and destroy the infected leaves that fall on the ground.

Watch Out! 10 Common Diseases That Affect Linden Trees

Despite being 80 feet tall, Linden or Basswood trees is highly susceptible to a variety of diseases. They can affected by these deadly ailments and die, depending upon the type of fungi that attack them.

Quick Tip!

Abstain from over watering your tree, it grows well in moist soil but not soaked soil.

Also known as Lime tree and Basswood, it is found mostly in Eastern North America, Asia, and Europe. The number of species of this tree is still not accurate. They are 20 to 40 meters tall. In spite of being sturdy, cold, and drought resistant, there are a number of diseases and insects which can affect this tree to a large extent, and at times, can cause it to die.

Would you like to write for us? Well, we’re looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we’ll talk…

Let’s Work Together!

Most of the diseases are not life-threatening, but if ample care is not taken, gradually, the tree will die. That’s why it’s better to take precautions beforehand. Let’s get acquainted with the 10 common diseases affecting Linden Trees.

Common Diseases

Verticillium Wilt

It is one of the most common diseases that linden trees fall prey to. This fungus takes birth in the soil and gains access into the tree through wounds in the root. Once the fungus enters the xylem, which contains cells that allows water to flow in the tree, it infects the branches, and eventually, spreads to the leaves. The symptoms are, the leaves start to fall prematurely, and the process of slow death of the tree begins.

Tip: To avoid this disease, purchase young linden trees with strong roots. Treatment of this disease is nearly impossible, that’s why prevention is better than cure.


An open wound is home to many insects and fungi. Linden trees develop cankers, which are often seen as swollen and woody bulges. They are dead sections of bark.

Tip: Buy trees without wounds and abrasion. Prune and destroy cankered barks. Use fertilizers and protect young trees during winters.

Sooty Mold

Scale insects which tend to excrete sweet and sticky substance. They often help in the growth of sooty mold. It is black in color, and makes the tree look dark. It weakens the tree’s growth if the disease is left untreated.

Tip: Make use of sterile pruning to get rid of affected foliage, burn the plant material or dispose it off in big plastic bags. Use horticulture oils to keep these pests at bay.

Powdery Mildew

An airborne disease, it appears as a white growth on the surface of the leaves. Small dots appear on the tree’s leaves, bark, and, shoots. High level of humidity and wet weather causes this outbreak. Infected leaves usually drop beforehand, and distortion in the growth of new leaves are the main symptoms to look out for.

Would you like to write for us? Well, we’re looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we’ll talk…

Let’s Work Together!

Tip: Position the tree in an area where it will receive full sunlight. Avoid using excessive nitrogen fertilizers to minimize this problem.

Black Mold

Trees which are affected by insects such as Aphid will have a growth of black mold, which develops on slimy, slippery waste called “Honey Dew” which is produced by these pests. These insects are protected by this dew.

Tip: Use insecticidal soap or other insect relief products to get rid of black mold.

Leaf Spot

If you see black or brown lesions on the leaves, chances are your linden tree is affected by leaf spot disease. If the leaves which are fallen are not disposed off, and if the tree is not treated with fungicide, leaf spot will appear again in the following year.

Tip: Treat the linden tree with fungicide.


Many insects feed on linden tree, to name a few: Aphids, Fall web worm, Japanese beetle, Lace bugs, Ambrosia beetle, and Linen borer. The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) causes damage to the foliage of the tree.

Tip: Most insects or pests can be killed using chemical sprays or insecticides.

Wood Decay

Different types of fungi generally attack the linden tree through the old wounds on it. Trees which are really very old, are most likely to be affected by wood decay. Symptoms like fruiting bodies, conks, and mushrooms are visible at the base of the tree.

Tip: Prune the affected area, and be careful not to wound the linden tree as a precaution against wood decay problem in future.

White Rot

Also known as sap rot, white rot is a fungal disease that affects the tree during cool and humid weather. Linden becomes prone to white rot during winters, and this fungus attacks those linden trees that have been damaged due to drought. Fungus which lies on cankered wood is spread during spring, this is because they are transported in wind and air. Trees which are infected will develop small blisters on the woody surface like the trunk and branches. Infected trees will show the same symptoms as black rot infections The tree’s power to transfer water and nutrients will be stopped due to the growth of this infection, and it will eventually die.

Tip: You can control white rot by pruning the affected area, and use fungicidal treatment. Since this disease is caused in cold weather, apply fungicides from spring to late fall.


It is a fungal disease caused due to heavy accumulation of fungi. It mostly develops during winters and rainy season. It is a leaf disease and first attacks the developing foliage. These infected foliage will develop small tan to dark spots initially, which will increase to huge blotches later. These spots are mostly visible near the tip of the leaf As the infection spreads, leaves die and fall from the tree. Trees which are infected severely will experience premature defoliation, which weakens the tree. If it is left untreated, the tree will die prematurely.

Tip: Remove stems and leaves which are infected, combine fungicidal treatment with regular tree maintenance plan, to minimize or prevent the infection.

Infections or disease that are caused due to fungi is because of humidity and damp weather. Soil is also one of the reasons, so make sure you don’t plant a tree in poorly drained soil. Linden tree is also sensitive to a herbicide known as Dicamba, so avoid using fertilizers which contains this herbicide.

Like it? Share it!

Linden trees, also known as basswood or, in Britain, lime trees, are large deciduous trees known for their attractive foliage and form. The nectar-rich flowers are prized for the honey that bees produce from them and the wood was used historically for building instruments and fine furniture.

Linden Trees in the Landscape

Growing slowly to 100 feet or more, the primary use of lindens among gardeners is as a shade tree.


Their tiny white flowers are profuse in number, but fairly insignificant in appearance. The foliage, however, is quite stunning – large heart-shaped leaves that turn bright yellow in fall. Lindens are also known for having a well-groomed look, usually starting out with a pyramidal shape when young and developing a broad, symmetrical crown with age.

Parts of Linden Trees

Flowers Leaf
Seeds Full grown crown-shaped tree


Hot, southern climates are hard on lindens, but at the other end of the temperature spectrum, they can take extremely cold conditions. They are fairly adaptable to soil type (sandy or clayey is fine), but tend to prefer moist, slightly alkaline conditions. They are not adaptable to highly acidic soils and drought conditions will eventually catch up with linden trees if supplemental irrigation is not provided. In nature, they are commonly found growing near streams and rivers.

Establishment and Care

Fall is a great time to plant linden trees, as their roots will establish themselves before spring growth begins. They are slow-growing at first and even after 20 or 30 years they may still be less than 50 feet tall. Avoid planting near foundations, driveways, sidewalks or patios, as the roots may, after some time, damage these structures. However, they are considered a structurally sound shade tree and can be safely planted where their limbs will eventually overhang the house, unlike species that have brittle wood and are prone to dropping limbs in storms.

Water linden trees deeply every few weeks for their first few years and whenever there has been a month or more with no rain in subsequent years. One of the best things you can do to support the establishment of a young linden tree is to maintain a three to four inch layer of mulch over the root zone to help conserve moisture and add organic matter to the soil.


With such large leaves linden trees cover the blanket around themselves in fall, making for a big raking project – a great source of mulch for the garden, though. They also send up sprouts from the base of the trunk or from exposed roots that may need to be cut back periodically.

Pests and Disease

The main pest associated with linden trees is aphids. Though not terribly detrimental to the health of the tree, aphids secrete a sugary substance that then combines with sooty, black mold to cover the ground – and everything else – below the trees. For this reason, it’s best to plant them out in the lawn rather than hanging over a parking area or patio.


Tilia Americana

Several species of linden are commonly grown, each with slightly different physical characteristics.

American linden (Tilia americana) has leaves up to eight inches in length.

  • Redmond has a pyramidal form when mature and extra shiny leaves.
  • Fastigiata is a tall narrow form with yellow flowers.

Tilia Cordata

Little leaf lindens (Tilia cordata) are a European species with leaves up to four inches in length.

  • Corzam is only 15 feet wide when mature and grows well in shade.
  • Greenspire has smaller leaves than most other varieties and a straight symmetrical form.

Silver linden (Tilia tomentosa) has silvery undersides on the leaves, making a dramatic appearance when they rustle in the wind.

Long Live the Lindens

Linden trees are slow-growing, but can live for many centuries and develop an enormous old-growth trunk. Planting a linden in your yard is an investment in the urban forests of the future.

Silver linden

Silver linden photo: John Hagstrom Tree & Plant Care

Full sun is best. Fairly adaptable to soil pH. Will tolerate drought a little better than other linden species.

Disease, pests, and problems

Aphids, Japanese beetles, linden borer are possible insect problems.
Powdery mildew and Verticillium wilt are possible fungal problems.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Silver linden does show less susceptibility than other lindens to Japanese beetles.

Native geographic location and habitat

Silver Linden is native to Europe and Asia.

Bark color and texture

On young trees the bark is a smooth gray. On older trees, the bark becomes more ridged.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves are heart-shaped with sharply serrated margins. Leaf size can vary from 2 to 5 inches.
In summer, leaves are dark green above and silvery-white on the underside. Fall color is a mild yellow.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Creamy yellow flowers in hanging clusters (7 to 10 flowers per cluster) in early summer. Each cluster is accompanied by a long, strap-shaped bract. Very fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruits are small egg-shaped gray nutlets, accompanied by a long strap-like bract.

Cultivars and their differences

Green Mountain® silver linden (Tilia tomentosa ‘PNI 6051’): This cultivar has a faster growth rate and is more tolerant of heat and drought.

Sterling silver linden (Tilia tomentosa ‘Sterling’): Good tolerance of heat and drought. This cultivar shows some resistance to Japanese beetle.

Silver Linden

March 11, 2016

Tilia tomentosa

  • Height: 50’ – 70’
  • Spread: 30’ – 50’
  • Site characteristics: Moist, deep, fertile, well-drained soils; full sun to partial shade; very site adaptable
  • Zone: 4 – 7
  • Wet/dry: Tolerates drought
  • Native range: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia
  • pH: 5.0 – 8.5
  • Shape: Pyramidal with dense, coarse foliage
  • Foliage: Glossy green with silvery-white color on the underside of the leaf
  • Other: Tolerates heat and drought better than T. cordata; tolerates urban sites, heat, drought and pollution; able to prune into a hedge
  • Cultivars: Green Mountain (‘PNI 6051’) – fast growing, symmetrical, dense canopy. Satin Shadow (‘Sashazam’) – possibly more cold hardy, symmetrical, reportedly resistant to Japanese beetles. Sterling Silver (also listed as ‘Sterling’) – dense canopy, resistant to Japanese beetles and gypsy moths.
  • Pests: Reportedly less susceptible to Japanese beetles than other lindens due to the soft, downy hairs on the underside of the leaves. No serious pests or disease problems.

Photos: Jesse Saylor, MSU

Print a PDF of this page: Silver Linden

Tags: home gardening

Related Topic Areas

Gardening in Michigan

Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *