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Linden, Linden tree

Eva Monning Eva MonningChristian Lang Christian Lang

Linden trees are an integral part of our culture, cuisine and medicine. Modern, smaller cultivars are also suitable as house and yard trees. Here are our tips for planting and care.

Origin

The genus of the Linden (Tilia) includes about 40 species (15 species are exclusively native to China) and comes from the linden family (Tiliaceae). Since Linden trees cross breed easily, there are also numerous hybrid forms. In addition, Linden blossoms are popular medicinal ingredients in teas and infusions.

Appearance and Growth

The Linden tree can be anywhere between 49.21 and 131.23 feet high, depending on the species. The straight upward-pointing branches form an imposing, arched tree crown over a straight trunk. The heart shape of the two-line alternating leaves is characteristic and is interpreted in folk mythology as a symbol for love. The Linden tree loses its leaves in winter.

Linden, Linden tree

Linden trees develop into mighty large trees over time

Midsummer begins every year with the Linden blossoms. The sweet scent that the flowers exude, especially in the evening hours, attract bees and bumblebees. They are therefore an important bee pasture for beekeepers. The flowers of the Linden tree later develop into pea-sized fruits with seeds in it. If they fall from the tree, the narrow bract acts like a wing. The wind carries away the seeds, helping the trees to propagate. Linden trees have a long life.

Location and Soil

Linden trees thrive in a bright location with full sun. It needs a well-drained soil. The pH value should be as neutral as possible.

heart-shaped leaves of Linden

The leaves of the Linden tree are heart-shaped

Planting

Linden trees are planted in autumn before the first frost. Choose a location where the tree has enough space and light on all sides. Note: During the flowering period, the tree is infested with aphids secreting large quantities of honeydew, which drips from the trees. You should therefore not plan a parking space or pool under summer Linden trees. Loosen up compacted soil with sand and dig a planting hole twice the size of a bale. Before and after planting, the Linden tree must be well watered. Support the freshly planted tree in the first year with posts to prevent it from falling over and cover the tree disc with a few bundles of sticks in the first winter.

Care Tips

A freshly planted Linden tree needs watering in the first few months on hot days in order to take root. Later the tree takes care of itself. Young Linden trees can still be replanted after a while if the location turns out to be less than ideal.

Shaping of the Linden tree

Linden trees can be formed into a beautiful, opaque hedge, like here in Hampton Court

Pruning

Linden trees actually grow into large trees. But if nurtured correctly and held in check with shears, they form shade-giving umbrella over the seat or frame the garden as a high trellis. Linden trees are the ideal for large hedges, box shapes and trellises. Row planting will create geometric tree walls. The trees are best shaped once a year in late winter with an electric hedge trimmer. Linden trees are very easy to prune and respond well to pruning by producing strong new shoots. Due to their ability to rejuvenate and leaf out quickly, the trees can withstand many a setback.

Where to plant

The Linden tree has a long tradition as a house tree for small gardens and courtyard trees, but due to its rapid growth and size it is only suitable for large plots of land. But garden nurseries now also have smaller varieties on offer, such as the Winter Linden Tilia cordata ‘Rancho’, which grows very slowly and only reaches a height of around 3.28 feet. If the tree is to shade a seat or parking lot, the Silver Linden tree is recommended. It is not as attacked by aphids and therefore the dripping of sticky honeydew is comparatively less. Box-shaped Linden trees work well as a privacy screen and provide protection from the wind. Also, a roof-shaped trimming works as a shade for a seating arrangement underneath. In the forestry sector, however, the Linden tree is not particularly popular because the soft wood is not easy to sell. Turners, instrument makers and sculptors, on the other hand, love it because it is easy to work with and does not crack.

Linden blossom tea

Linden blossom tea is a popular drink for a sore throat and cold

Important species

In Central Europe there are naturally only two, albeit very similar, linden species: the summer and winter linden (Tilia platyphyllos and Tilia cordata). The leaves and stems of the Summer Linden tree have a fine hair all over, but only the underside of the leaf is hairy in winter linden tree. The former reaches up to 131.23 feet in height, the winter linden tree is around 32.8 feet smaller. With its high-arched and dense crown, the Summer Linden tree looks more imposing than its smaller sister species. However, summer and winter linden trees cross-pollinate easily and it is often difficult to clearly differentiate between the offsprings.

The Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa), which comes from Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, can be identified by the light underside of the leaves, is only about 82.02 feet high and is significantly more resistant to dust and exhaust gases. So, you are more likely to see it being planted as a park and avenue tree in cities. The Silver Linden flowers a little later than the native species. The also very well-known Crimean linden (Tilia x echlora) is a cross between Winter Linden (Tilia cordata) and Black Sea Linden (Tilia dasystyla). With a height of 59.05 feet, it remains rather small and its crown is also narrow, which makes it suitable for large gardens or urban landscaping.

Linden blossoms

Linden blossoms magically attract bees and bumblebees

Propagation

Linden trees reproduce easily. They reproduce by vegetative propagation by shoots or root sprout. Generative propagation of the Linden tree occurs via seeds that the wind carries over long distances.

Diseases and Pests

The Linden tree gets easily infested by pests such as the linden jewel beetle, the linden spider mite or the linden leaf wasp. Moreover aphids infest almost all Linden varieties in early summer. These feed on the sap and excrete honeydew. June onwards, the sugary secretion usually falls to the ground in fine droplets and forms a thin, sticky film on garden furniture and parked cars. Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa) show the lowest infestation of aphids, winter linden (Tilia cordata) and Crimean Linden (Tilia euchlora) are relatively weak. The black and red colored fire bugs that appear at the base of linden or robinia do not damage the tree. The rumor that linden trees for insects, especially bumble bees, is wrong.

Linden gall mite symptoms

If an infestation of linden gall mite occurs, conspicuous red galls form on the upper side of the leaf

Linden as founders of culture

Not only is the Linden trees usually found near the fountain in front of the gate. In many villages, an old Linden tree is also the central meeting point in the town center. In the past, sentences were pronounced under this tree ("Court Linden tree") and to this day people like to celebrate festivals under its shadow. Even in the fields and corridors, chapels and wayside crosses are often lined with the majestic trees. These traditions go back a long way, even among the Germanic peoples the linden was considered a holy tree under which people gathered. The Linden tree appears in many fairy tales, folk songs and poems, and many a romantic rendezvous took place under the shade of its heart-shaped leaves. Nowadays in cities, however, the local linden trees feel less comfortable. They are troubled by heat, exhaust fumes and dust. For this reason, more robust species such as the Silver Linden from southeast Europe are preferred as street trees.

The healing power of Linden

Linden blossom tea, a classic home remedy for colds, is prepared by collecting the flowers shortly after they have bloomed and drying them with the narrow bracts of the inflorescence. Let the tea brew for approximately 10 minutes. Linden blossom honey is light, liquidy and has a fruity-sweet taste. The bees also collect honeydew on Linden trees, i.e. the excretions of the aphids. The honey obtained from it is darker and aromatic. Like tea, Linden honey is said to have medicinal properties. When used externally, linden flowers help against inflammation of the skin and tear sacs under the eyes. For an oil tincture, 10 grams are steeped in 100 milliliters of sunflower oil for two weeks. Then massage the affected areas with it.

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