This comedy sketch is not safe for work. It is, however, very funny. And one art historian actually fact-checked it. Find out why Victoria didn’t think that linden trees smell of that, and which tree Victorians believed actually did smell of it.
The point of this sketch is that a modern idea—linden trees smelled like semen—could not possibly be expressed during Victorian times. Ah, but apparently it could. Victorians just had a different idea of what semen smelled like, or a better tree to symbolize it, or both. Art historian Christina Bradstreet has a very interesting, if no-longer-updated blog, Art and Perfume, and was inspired by this very sketch to look into this very incident. According to Bradstreet:
I went through her online diaries the other day looking for references to smell and perfume, in the hope of being able to write a good Jubilee post, but disappointingly, it seems that apart from the occasional problem with the Palace drains and the odd gift of a scent bottle, she didn’t have too much to say about odours, and nothing at all about linden trees!
But Victorians weren’t impervious to the smell of semen from arboreal sources. While researching her PhD, she found that multiple Victorian books state that chestnut trees smell like semen. That, she thought, might be why one Biblical painting shows Eve, after eating the apple, surrounded by chestnut leaves.
The entire entry is very much worth reading, as Bradstreet describes bodily-fluid-scented plants around the world, and what various Victorians did to preserve their modesty from phallic foliage.
by Juliet Lapidos
On a mild April night some years ago, I walked past a college dorm in New Haven and smelled something I couldn’t place. It reminded me vaguely of swimming pools. Was it chlorine? I sniffed again, more deeply than before. Suddenly I knew exactly what it was and hurried away, internally berating an unseen teenage boy. A few evenings later, in the same spot, I smelled it again. Filled with a sense of moral outrage I looked around, I looked up, and identified the culprit: A tree.
More precisely, a Callery Pear, or Pyrus calleryana, a deciduous tree that’s common throughout North America. It blossoms in early spring and produces beautiful, five-petaled white flowers — that smell like semen.
Like when you learn a new word and then see and hear it everywhere, after making the connection between Callerys and the scent of semen I saw and smelled them everywhere. I said that Callerys are “common”: A preposterous understatement. In Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, which is for horticulturists what the DSM is for psychotherapists, Michael Dirr says that the Bradford Pear — a Callery cultivar — inhabits “almost every city and town to some degree or another” and warns that “the tree has reached epidemic proportions.” There’s one between my apartment and my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn, and there’s probably one between your apartment and your favorite coffee shop. The last time New York’s Parks Department conducted a tree census, from 2005 to 2006, there were 63,600 Callery Pears, making it the third-most popular species in the city, after the London Planetree and the Norway Maple.
The Callery’s aroma is an open secret. Three years ago The Frisky published an article titled “A Tree That Smells Like…Well…Um…,” which directed me to a Yahoo! Answers thread on the topic, and to the Urban Dictionary entry “Semen Tree.”
But in the professional literature, euphemisms abound. Dirr calls the Bradford “malodorous” and leaves it at that. (By contrast, here’s how he describes the Bradford’s fall coloration: “spectacular reddish purple, others yellow to red reminding of a persimmon orange.”)
The way I see it, there’s weirdly little attention paid to the fact that, for a few weeks each year, there’s a good chance your street smells like semen. We just carry on as if that were normal.
The Callery’s not even the most-talked-about smelly tree, a distinction that certainly belongs to the vomit-perfumed Ginkgo. There’s even a New Yorker Talk of the Town about the Ginkgo’s stench — and the three media-savvy teenagers who formed an Anti-Gingko Tolerance Group. But the Callery? The New Yorker doesn’t care. There is no Anti-Callery Tolerance Group.
Despite the absence of grassroots agitating against the Callery, we may have reached peak semen-smell. As Dirr puts it, Bradfords tend to “develop rather tight crotches,” which makes them prone to splitting as they age. And while not every Callery cultivar splits easily — the Aristocrat and the Chanticleer fare better — they’re all borderline invasive, taking up shop in abandoned lots without human intervention. (And less urban ecosystems as well: A National Parks Service publication explains how to cut them down and apply herbicides to the stumps.) For these reasons — not because of their smell — they’re falling out of vogue with urban parks departments.
New York now plants just 20 or 30 Callerys per year, while literally thousands are lost to attrition (from storm damage and such). Jeremy Barrick, the deputy chief of forestry, horticulture and natural resources at the Parks Department, expects the Callery to lose its number 3 spot in the 2015 census. He anticipates a total Callery count of roughly 30,000 — a 50-percent decline from 2006.
That’s progress. But for the time being, you can tell it’s spring if you smell semen.
Juliet Lapidos is an editor at the New York Times. Photo by Bosc d’Anjou.
- Identifying Linden Trees
- Range and Habitat
- Linden Flowers
- Linden Honey
- Linden Leaves
- Linden Seeds
- Linden Sap
- Linden Bark
- Other Uses For Linden
- Basswood or Linden Tree Interesting Facts And Uses
- Linden Tree Info: How To Care For Linden Trees
- Linden Tree Info
- How to Care for Linden Trees
- American Linden
Identifying Linden Trees
When I first started planning our edible food forest, I was adamant about including linden trees. They seemed like the perfect all-purpose tree with edible and medicinal parts and an excellent food source for the bees. I sketched and planned and picked where our majestic linden would go on paper.
In the spring, we went out to walk the land and refine our plan. Right at the edge of the woods, where I planned to plant our linden tree, I looked up to see a tree with absolutely huge leaves sprouting, and rugged bark. Wait a minute…we already have a linden. My eyes opened, and on our next woods walk, I saw dozens within a few hundred feet of the house.
Lesson learned. Before you start thinking about changing your land and planting your permaculture paradise, take a thorough inventory. You might be surprised at how much diversity is already there…
Wild foraged linden flowers gathered in June in Vermont.
The Linden tree (Tilia sp.), also known as Basswood, Honey-Tree, Bee Tree or Lime Tree, is a common deciduous tree found throughout the northern hemisphere. It’s easily identified by its utterly gigantic heart-shaped leaves (6-8 inches across) and intensely fragrant flowers. Adult trees have fissured bark and can reach 6 feet in diameter.
All parts of the plant are edible including the leaves, flowers, seeds, sap, and bark.
Range and Habitat
Tilia americana is found throughout the Northeastern and North Central United States from Minnesota to Missouri in the West to Maine and Virginia in the East. Other linden tree species are also found in this range, most notably little leaf linden which is commonly planted as a landscape tree (and has more fragrant flowers).
Tilia Americana Range from the US Forest Service
While it can be found as a young tree on roadsides, sand dunes and dry exposed ridges, it tree seems to thrive on north and east-facing slopes with moist soils. It’s preferred soil type is “mesic” meaning it maintains an abundant supply of moisture year-round without being swampy.
It’s not a dominant tree, and generally shares the forest with Sugar Maple, Ironwood, White Ash, Red Maple, and Elm.
That happens to be the exact makeup of our 30 acres here in Central Vermont, and there are seemingly hundreds of linden trees dotting the woodland now that I know how to identify linden trees.
Linden Trees flower for two weeks sometime between May and July depending on location and year to year weather conditions. At any given point during the two-week flowering period, a single tree will possess flowers at all stages of development hanging downward from leaf stalks.
Groupings range from 4 to 40 flowers in an inflorescence, and the larger groupings are particularly dramatic.
Trees begin flowering at about 15 years of age and continue throughout the life of the tree. Since mature lindens are huge trees, it can be difficult to forage from adult specimens that have reached the canopy. Look for a tree that is at least 2 inches in diameter and watch carefully during the flowering season for bud formation if you want to harvest these tasty edible flowers.
Fresh linden flowers in a homemade linden mead.
The best time to gather linden flowers is right after they open. The flowers quickly fade, and they’ll only have peak fragrance (and taste) for just a few days. Since the flowers open over a two week period, you may need to make several trips back to the same tree for your linden flower harvest.
Linden flowers can be used fresh, provided they’re used immediately. They’ll only last about 24-48 hours after harvest, so it’s best to begin drying them immediately for storage.
Linden flowers past their prime. They’ve already started to disintegrate and form into linden seed pods.
As with any flower, it’s best to dry them in a cool, dark well-ventilated space. Avoid drying them in your oven, which will drive off much of their delicate flavor. Lay them out on screens and allow them to dry for a few days, ideally with a small fan to help with air circulation.
If you live in a particularly humid area, which happens to be most of a linden tree’s range…then it’s actually best to use a commercial dehydrator to ensure even drying to preserve linden flowers. We use an Excaliber 9 Tray dehydrator which quickly and efficiently dries linden flowers. I add purpose-built silicone sheets to the drying trays, which helps support the tiny flowers through the drying process. Without the sheets, most of the flowers would fall through the racks during drying.
Set the dehydrator to the lowest temperature setting (usually around 100 to 110 degrees) and dry the linden flowers for 6 to 18 hours. The total time will depend on the ambient humidity in your home, as well as the moisture levels in and on the flowers. (ie. Harvesting them with morning dew on them will mean a longer drying time).
The flowers have a strong sweet smell, like honeysuckle or jasmine. They taste as floral as they smell, with the added flavor of a little sweet green asparagus. They can be eaten fresh or made into medicinal linden tea or tincture.
Medicinally, they’re most commonly used as a sedative and in the treatment of anxiety, similar to how chamomile is used today. They’re also used in the treatment of colds and flus, as well as respiratory issues. The flowers are sedative, expectorant, diuretic and antiseptic. (Source)
Linden tea made with wild foraged linden flowers.
Linden is sometimes called the “Honey-Tree” because it’s great for pollinators. Over 60 species of insects are known to routinely visit its flowers. Though linden trees only bloom for about 2 weeks a year, they’re a major nectar source for bees.
A single acre of mature linden trees can produce enough nectar to make over 1,000 pounds of honey. Around these parts, the trees are often covered by both native bees and honey bees collecting the sweet linden nectar.
Linden honey itself is has a unique fresh woodsy taste, with a hint of mint and camphor. Though it’s light in color, it’s strongly flavored honey.
While it’s generally hard to obtain monofloral honey from any particular flower early summer, linden honey is an exception. The blooms are so attractive during the two week period in early summer that beekeepers can actually pull off honey that is predominantly made with linden flowers if they time it correctly.
The result is pretty magic, and unlike more generic wildflower or apple blossom honey that can be obtained just before and after the linden bloom. I happened to find a jar of linden honey locally, but you can also order it online here.
Mono-floral linden honey that I found at a farmer’s market here in Vermont.
While linden flowers get all the attention, my favorite part of the linden tree is actually the leaves. They’re a spectacular salad green, and unlike other wild greens usually harvested from edible weeds, they have no bitterness. Nothing but sweet, juicy salad from these, very similar to an expensive head of Boston butter lettuce.
Linden leaves are always edible but are best when picked young and before they have grown to full size. No bigger than 2 inches harvested in the early spring is ideal. As they get older the texture changes and they get tough but are still quite tasty. Eat them fresh right off the tree, or use as a base for a salad.
They taste green and slightly sweet.
Young linden leaves in late May in Vermont.
Even better than linden leaves are the tightly curled linden leaf buds.
If you catch linden just as its budding, but before the leaves unfurl, you’re in for a real treat. Linden leaf buds taste almost exactly like sugar snap peas. They are very sweet, and all that concentrated leaf matter rolled tightly into a bud has a pleasant sweet green crunch.
Since they’re so tasty and perfect for a pop in your mouth snack, it’s easy to overharvest linden leaf buds. Be careful, and remember that the growing tree will need most of these leaves to collect energy during the summer months.
Since linden trees usually get quite tall within a few years, most the buds will be safely out of reach, but if you happen on a young tree, go ahead and harvest a small handful of these delicious linden treats.
Young linden leaf buds before the leaves have unfurled. This occurs in Mid-May in Vermont.
When the tree is young, it’s easily confused for a bush or shrub because it tends to grow in a bushy habit early on if it’s not competing for sunlight, and young basswood “bushes” are common along roadsides and are an excellent source of fresh greens.
Mature adult trees reach high into the canopy, but leaves are often accessible due to suckering at the base. Those small suckers are a great source of wild foraged greens, but they often don’t flower.
A mature linden leaf growing near the ground from a small sucker on the trunk of a larger linden tree.
It’s said that linden seeds, which develop a few weeks after flowering, can be made into a convincing chocolate substitute. The seeds husks can be easily cracked between your teeth, and the seeds themselves are then ground into a chocolate-like substance. The ground paste, however, does not keep very long, making linden chocolate not viable on any large scale.
I’ve also read that you can crack linden seeds and extract a tiny edible nut from the inside.
I’ve tried both, and I’m sad to say I was unsuccessful. Though many sources say linden seeds are edible, I’ve yet to find a palatable way to eat them.
Green linden seeds from Tilia americana
Sources say that only immature seeds, when mixed with the sweet-scented dried flowers, produce a chocolate substitute. When the seeds mature they lose some of their chocolate flavors, and gain a more coffee-like taste.
This may be limited to European linden species. I tried making linden chocolate out of the seeds of a Tilia Americana and it quite simply didn’t work. There’s nothing in those small, hard, bitter seeds that could be made into chocolate.
I couldn’t even get them to grind.
My attempt at making linden chocolate with green linden seeds from Tilia americana.
If you have access to European linden, give it a try and let me know how it goes.
Use this recipe for linden chocolate:
Mix 10-12 parts immature seed to 1 part dried flowers and process in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Add a little neutral oil (grapeseed, etc) to help you make it into a manageable paste. Eat immediately, as it loses its flavor within a day or two. (Source)
Use this recipe for Linden Coffee:
Roast mature seeds at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes until dry and browned. Grind when cool and make as you would coffee. (Source)
Linden tree seed cluster hanging on the tree.
Linden is part of a large group of hardwood trees you can tap for syrup. The sap runs for a brief period in the early spring. While maple sap is roughly 3-5% sugar, linden sap is only roughly 1% and will take a lot more sap to make a gallon of syrup (~120 gallons instead of ~40 for maple). (Source)
We tried tapping linden trees for syrup, but sadly, we were unsuccessful. While we make syrup from maple trees as well as other species, including birch syrup and ironwood syrup, linden sap never seems to run.
I recently talked to the people that run New Leaf Tree Syrups here just down the road from us, and they tell me that many tree species require a vacuum pump to extract sap. While you can make syrup from the sap, it doesn’t exactly naturally run like maple sap.
While linden sap is commonly mentioned as a “survival food” that provides both water and nutrients, it’s not very practical if it requires a vacuum system…
A linden tree tapped for syrup.
Still, while tapping linden trees may be impractical for the backyard sugar maker, they have another sugar-related use. Basswood saplings were also traditionally used to make taps, as they can be easily hollowed out of pith to make a durable wooden tube to funnel the sap from the tree.
We’ve made our own maple taps using elderberry and staghorn sumac, but now I’m excited to try making basswood taps because I imagine they’d be considerably more durable. We’ll see…
The bark, or more specifically, inner cambium can be removed and eaten. It tastes slightly sweet and green like a cucumber. It can be eaten fresh as a vegetable, or dried and ground into powder for baking (mixed with flour).
Linden cambium is best taken in the early spring when its sugar content is the greatest. Harvesting from the trunk can hurt or kill a mature tree. It’s best to find a limb or sucker and cut it off completely, then peel back the outer bark to reach the sweet cambium.
Anytime you cut into the bark of a tree, you’re opening up the trunk of the tree to insects, disease, and decay. If you cut around the full circumference of the tree, a practice known as girdling, the supply of nutrients is completely cut off, and the tree will die.
According to the Herbal Academy’s online Botany and Wildcrafting Course, “As a rule, never harvest from the trunk of a living tree. Only harvest bark from a tree that has been recently cut down for some other reason or has recently fallen over on its own. The timing here can be tricky, as you only want to harvest from recently fallen trees (within a few weeks of falling or being cut down) and not those that have begun to rot and decay. Never, absolutely never, cut a tree down simply just to harvest its bark or its root bark. This is not only unethical, but unsustainable, and is the reason why so many tree species used in herbalism, such as slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), are currently at risk from over-harvesting.”
Other Uses For Linden
While the wood has a low BTU rating and makes poor firewood, it is prized for carving because it is very light and has little discernible grain. Charcoal made from the wood is said to be more absorbent of impurities than that of other woods, and it is used as a filter and in medicine for digestive complaints.
The cambium (inner bark) is used as cordage and was processed into clothing like linen by Native Americans. It is not quite as strong or durable as linen, but the tree produces vast quantities and the strands are very long, making it useful in quantity, if not quality.
Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies
Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America
Linden is one of three English names for the tree genus Tilia (also known as lime and basswood).
The genus is generally called lime or linden in Britain and linden, lime, or basswood in North America.
There are about 30 species of linden native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. It can be found in Europe, North America and Asia.
Lindens prefer to grow on moist, fertile soils that are well drained and sufficiently aerated.
It grows in full sun and tolerates partial shade.
Lindens are one of the most attractive ornamental trees because of their symmetrical growth habit.
It usually has a lifespan of few hundred years, but there are specimens thought to be more than 1,000 years old.
Linden species are mostly large, deciduous trees, reaching typically 20 to 40 meters (65 to 130 ft) tall.
Young linden trees have nearly smooth grey bark. Old trees have grey to brown bark which is shallowly fissured.
Linden produces broad, heart-shaped, asymmetrical leaves with pointed tips and serrated edges. Leaves are 6 to 20 centimeters (2 1⁄4 to 7 3⁄4 in) across.
Leaves are green and hairy during the spring. They change color into yellow during the autumn.
Linden produces flowers during the late spring. Flowers are cream to yellow, fragrant and organized in clusters from 2 to 10.
Lindens are hermaphroditic, having perfect flowers with both male and female parts, pollinated by insects.
When flowers is pollinated by insects, they develop into round-oval, slightly ribbed fruits, with a pointed tip. Small balls of 0.3 centimeters (0.12 inch), grouped by 2, 3 or 4, and fitted with a wing
that facilitates their spread by wind.
Lindens are very important honey plants for beekeepers, producing a very pale but richly flavoured monofloral honey. The flowers are also used for herbal tea and tinctures; this kind of use is particularly popular in Europe and also used in North American herbal medicine practices.
The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Linden Flower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The
flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes.
Active ingredients in the Linden flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.
Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production),
antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative.
New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective (ability to prevent damage to the liver).
The linden wood is white and soft, its grain is very fine, but it does not resist well humidity. It is used to fabricate frameworks of pieces of furniture, picture frames, hoofs, printing boards, pencils, matches and piano keys. It is a popular wood for model building and for intricate carving.
Ease of working and good acoustic properties also make linden wood popular for electric guitar and bass bodies and for wind instruments such as recorders. Percussion manufacturers sometimes use it as a material for drum shells, both to enhance their sound and for their aesthetics.
It was often used by Vikings and Germanic tribes for constructing shields.
Known in the trade as basswood, particularly in North America, its name originates from the inner fibrous bark of the tree, known as bast. From the bark, were extracted fibres, teille, which, by retting, made ropes, mats and coarse fabrics.
Commonly called lime trees in the British Isles, they are not closely related to the lime fruit.
It is recommended as an ornamental tree when a mass of foliage or a deep shade is desired.
The linden is the national tree of Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.
In old Slavic mythology, the linden (lipa, as called in all Slavic languages) was considered a sacred tree. Particularly in Poland, many villages have a name “Święta Lipka” (or similar), which literally means “Holy Lime”.
In the Slavic Orthodox Christian world, linden wood was the preferred wood for panel icon painting. The icons by the hand of Andrei Rublev, including the Holy Trinity (Hospitality of Abraham), and The Savior, now in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, are painted on linden wood. Its wood was chosen for its ability to be sanded very smooth and for its resistance to warping once seasoned.
The Linden was also a highly symbolic and hallowed tree to the Germanic people in their native pre-Christian mythology. Originally, local communities assembled not only to celebrate and dance under a Linden tree, but to hold their judicial meetings there in order to restore justice and peace.
In Europe, some linden trees reached considerable ages. A coppice of T. cordata in Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is estimated to be 2,000 years old. In the courtyard of the Imperial Castle at Nuremberg is a Linden which, by tradition recounted in 1900, was planted by the Empress Cunigunde, the wife of Henry II of Germany circa 1000.
Linden came to Earth over 70 million years ago. The fossils were found in North Siberia, Spitsbergen, Chukotka Peninsula… so it’s a very old and knowledgeable tree.
Basswood or Linden Tree Interesting Facts And Uses
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Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees. The genus is generally called Lime or Linden in Britain and Linden, Lime, or Basswood in North America but they are not closely related to the lime fruit. The genus occurs in Europe and eastern North America, but the greatest species diversity is found in Asia.
Tilia is a beautiful, large and long-lived tree. In Europe, some linden trees reached considerable ages. A coppice of Tilia cordata in Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is estimated to be 2,000 years old. Linden came to Earth over 70 million years ago.
Basswood or Linden tree grows to a height of 30 to 40 meters. It is recommended as an ornamental tree when a mass of foliage or a deep shade is desired. The leaves of all the Tilia species are heart-shaped and most are asymmetrical. The flower of this tree is blooming in summer, in late June and early July. Flowers emit a beautiful and relaxing scent, sometimes it can be too strong. You can eat flowers, the leaf buds and young leaves raw.
The tree can produce seeds when as young as eight years and continue to 100. Past 120 the tree starts to get a lot of “cavities” and becomes home to a lot of woodland creatures.
All of the Tilia species may be propagated by cuttings and grafting, as well as by seed.
Linden trees produce soft and easily worked timber, which has very little grain. It is also a popular wood for model building and for intricate carving.
Good acoustic properties and ease of working also make limewood popular for electric guitar and bass bodies and for wind instruments. Percussion manufacturers sometimes use tilia as a material for drum shells.
Bast (a type of fiber) obtained from the inside of the bark of the Tilia tree has been used by the Ainu people of Japan to weave their traditional clothing, the attus.
The Indians soaked the bark of the Basswood for two to four weeks to loosen long fibers. They used the fibers for many of their needs: Bags, baskets, belts, fishnets, house mats, snowshoe netting, ropes, sewing thread and even suturing wounds. It was used where a lot of fiber strength was not needed.
The double-flowered species of Tilia are used to make perfumes.
It is interesting, that a paste made from the seeds and flowers of the Basswood tree is a good substitute for chocolate. But we have never tasted it. 🙂
Some Lime trees (Linden trees) are favoured by beekeepers, and Linden honey is especially popular in Romania or Ukraine, for example. Linden is called sometimes the “bee tree” because bees love the fragrant nectar from these large shade trees.
But be careful, as reputedly some lime trees (tilia) are poisonous for some bee species and less toxic for others, or have at least a narcotic effect.
Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos are fine (non-toxic), but several others are to be avoided:
Tilia Petiolaris , as are Tilia orbicularis, Tilia oliveri (Chinese Lime), Tilia tomentosa, (silver lime in the UK and silver linden in the US) – especially toxic for bumblebees, but apparently not so toxic for honeybees, Tilia euchlora, Tilia dasystila. (Read more buzzaboutbees.net)
Folklore and history
In Greek mythology Homer, Horace, Virgil, and Pliny mention the Linden tree and its virtues. As Ovid tells the old story of Baucis and Philemon, she was changed into a linden and he into an oak when the time came for them both to die.
In German folklore, the Linden is the “tree of lovers”.
Slavic people used to plant linden close to churches, houses, and important meetings places. They believed that lightening would not hit the holy tree, so people hid underneath it during thunderstorms.
Linden branches were brought for healing if there was an ill person or animal in the house. Nobody could break or cut the Linden tree without special needs. People also were making talismans of the linden wood. In the Slavic Orthodox Christian world, linden wood was the preferred wood for panel icon painting.
June is called Lipanj in Croatia and July is named Lipenj in Ukraine and Lipiec in Poland, after the month when the linden tree blooms.
The Linden was also a highly symbolic and hallowed tree to the Germanic people in their native pre-Christian mythology. Originally, local communities were gathering together not only to celebrate and dance under a Linden tree, but to hold their judicial meetings there in order to restore justice and peace.
Linden wood was often used by Germanic Tribes for constructing shields.
Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Linden flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.
Linden flowers are used for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache, and as a diuretic, antispasmodic, and sedative. Flowers may be also hepatoprotective.
The wood is used for liver, gallbladder, and intestinal disorders, as well as cellulitis.
Safety notes: This website is not medical advice, and please check with your doctor before using plants if you are pregnant, using medications or have other health conditions.
Source: wikipedia.org, fragrantica.com, eattheweeds.com
Cover photo by portlandtreetour.wordpress.com
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Sterling Silver Linden
Sterling Silver Linden
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 45 feet
Spread: 30 feet
Hardiness Zone: 5a
A very ornamental shade tree with a broad, oval habit of growth and fragrant flowers in early summer; dark green leaves have a silvery backside which shimmers in the wind, very attractive; a neat and tidy tree, very adaptable, best for larger landscapes
Sterling Silver Linden has attractive dark green foliage with silver undersides throughout the season. The fuzzy heart-shaped leaves are highly ornamental and turn an outstanding gold in the fall. It features subtle clusters of fragrant yellow flowers with tan bracts hanging below the branches in early summer. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Sterling Silver Linden is a dense deciduous tree with a strong central leader and a distinctive and refined pyramidal form. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.
This is a relatively low maintenance tree, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting bees to your yard. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;
Sterling Silver Linden is recommended for the following landscape applications;
Planting & Growing
Sterling Silver Linden will grow to be about 45 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 feet. It has a high canopy with a typical clearance of 6 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. As it matures, the lower branches of this tree can be strategically removed to create a high enough canopy to support unobstructed human traffic underneath. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.
This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, and should do just fine under average home landscape conditions. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.
Linden Tree Info: How To Care For Linden Trees
If you have a large landscape with plenty of room for a medium-to-large tree to spread its branches, consider growing a linden tree. These handsome trees have a loose canopy that produces dappled shade on the ground below, allowing in just enough sunlight for shade grasses and flowers to grow beneath the tree. Growing linden trees is easy because they require little care once established.
Linden Tree Info
Linden trees are attractive trees that are ideal for urban landscapes because they tolerate a wide range of adverse conditions, including pollution. One problem with the tree is that they attract insects. Aphids leave sticky sap on the leaves and cottony scale insects look like fuzzy growths on the twigs and stems. It’s hard to control these insects on a tall tree, but the damage is temporary and the tree gets a fresh start each spring.
Here are the linden tree varieties most often seen in North American landscapes:
- Little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata) is a medium to large shade tree with a symmetrical canopy that looks at home in formal or casual landscapes. It is easy to care for and needs little or no pruning. In summer it produces clusters of fragrant yellow flowers that attract bees. In late summer, dangling clusters of nutlets replace the flowers.
- American linden, also called basswood (T. americana), is best suited to large properties such as public parks because of its wide canopy. The leaves are coarse and not as attractive as those of the little-leaf linden. The fragrant flowers that bloom in early summer attract bees, which use the nectar to make a superior honey. Unfortunately, a number of leaf-eating insects are also attracted to the tree and it is sometimes defoliated by the end of summer. The damage isn’t permanent and the leaves return the following spring.
- European linden (T. europaea) is a handsome, medium to large tree with a pyramid-shaped canopy. It can grow 70 feet tall or more. European lindens are easy to care for but they tend to sprout additional trunks that should be pruned off as they appear.
How to Care for Linden Trees
The best time for planting a linden tree is in fall after the leaves drop, although you can plant container-grown trees any time of year. Choose a location with full sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. The tree prefers a neutral to alkaline pH but tolerates slightly acidic soils as well.
Place the tree in the planting hole so that the soil line on the tree is even with the surrounding soil. As you backfill around the roots, press down with your foot from time to time to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly after planting and add more soil if a depression forms around the base of the tree.
Mulch around the linden tree with organic mulch such as pine needles, bark or shredded leaves. Mulch suppresses weeds, helps the soil hold moisture and moderates temperature extremes. As the mulch breaks down, it adds essential nutrients to the soil. Use 3 to 4 inches of mulch, and pull it back a couple of inches from the trunk to prevent rot.
Water newly planted trees once or twice a week for the first two or three months in the absence of rain. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Well-established linden trees only need watering during prolonged dry spells.
Fertilize newly planted linden trees the following spring. Use a 2-inch layer of compost or a 1-inch layer of rotted manure over an area roughly twice the diameter of the canopy. If you prefer, you can used a balanced fertilizer such as 16-4-8 or 12-6-6. Established trees don’t need annual fertilization. Fertilize only when the tree isn’t growing well or the leaves are pale and small, following the package directions. Avoid using weed and feed products designed for lawns over the root zone of a linden tree. The tree is sensitive to herbicides and leaves may become brown or distorted.
Nature Hills is proud to offer the hard-to-find American Linden (Tilia americana) tree. This tree is a national treasure with a lush foliage, strong wood, and amazing flowers. As it grows, Linden becomes a valuable asset in your yard.
Large, heart-shaped leaves cast dappled shade during hot summer months. They are dark green and held on strong, uniformly spaced branches, which makes this an excellent choice to use as a lovely shade tree.
Linden is well-known for its regal presence in the landscape. This stately tree makes a substantial impact in a large landscape.
Also known as the Basswood tree, the American Linden features fragrant clusters of pale yellow flowers that dangle from textured branches. They’ll draw pollinators in to come feast on the nectar and carry laden pollen sacs back to the hive. Basswood honey simply can’t be beat!
This gourmet honey is rich and dark. Homesteaders and entrepreneurs should consider setting up a profitable bee-keeping business with a stand of American Linden set in a pasture or back lot.
The fragrant flowers give way to small nutlets attached to 3-4″ wings in summer. The pale green wings give a wonderful visual interest throughout your tree for the late summer. They make a nice contrast to the dark green leaves. When autumn comes on, the Linden’s foliage deepens into mellow yellow fall color.
The American Linden tree will please all your senses through the year. Order today!
How to Use American Linden in the Landscape
American Linden has been an American landscape favorite for hundreds of years. It’s even, well-structured profile works in a wide variety of garden styles. It looks beautifully formal in a large front yard.
The color variation from the leaves and lighter green wings would also stand up in a rustic setting. Pair with shaggy, native evergreens along the back fence to cast welcome shade an overly bright backyard.
Not only used as a lovely ornamental, American Linden is a valuable tree with potential as a cash crop. Grow them for specialty timber. Hobby woodworkers across the country love to use the fine heartwood to make fine, bespoke furniture.
Create holistic products from the leaves and flowers as part of an herbal online store. Or, set up shop as a bee-keeper. American Linden produces a fine brown honey. Some consider the honey from Linden flowers to be some of the best available.
The European Lindens, such as the Tilia cordata, have been used for centuries to make some of the finest honeys in the world. The American Basswood produces the same fine-quality honey as its European relatives.
#ProPlantTips for Care
Native to a wide swathe of North America, the American Linden is widely adaptable to many types of soils and climates. Once established, American Linden doesn’t mind a bit of drought. A nice, thick layer of mulch over the root system will help to keep it cool in dry times.
The tree requires good drainage, but can tolerate both wet and dry locations. It can also tolerate higher pH soils.
Perfect for large properties, you won’t want to miss out on the fragrance, style and grace of the beautiful American Linden. Order today!