Linden

Linden is known throughout the Northern Hemisphere for its beauty and sweet-smelling flowers, which possess the ability to ease anxiety and despondency.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Scientific nameTilia spp.
  • Plant typeTree
  • Native regionEastern or Central Europe, Central Asia
  • Main producer(s)China
  • Main Economic UseTimber industry
Linden

From the old-growth forests of Europe to distant continental shores, linden trees have provided shade and beauty for centuries, both naturally and by design. This lofty plant is, however, much more than a sum of its parts: humans have used linden flowers, leaves, and wood for medicinal purposes since Medieval times. Linden trees are indigenous to several regions of Europe and Asia, and they successfully adapted to the northeastern quadrant of North America.

Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionAntispasmodic, Sedative
  • Key constituentsMucilage, phenols
  • Ways to useCapsules, Hot infusions/tisanes, Tincture
  • Medicinal rating(2) Minorly useful plant
  • Safety rankingUse with caution

Health Benefits of Linden

Linden flowers boast a high concentration of nutrients that benefit human health, making the plant a natural candidate for use in herbal medicine. Linden has a wide range of medicinal applications:

  • Treating insomnia. Its sedative properties are useful for treating many sleep disorders, including insomnia.

  • Relieving muscle spasms. Linden works as an antispasmodic, which can help relieve muscle spasms, especially in the arms and legs.

In addition, some medicinal uses also include:

  • Soothing airways. Linden can help clear airways in congested sinuses.

  • Aid in digestion. Linden can help with numerous digestive functions, including relieving indigestion.

  • Anti-wrinkle. Linden has properties that promote skin elasticity, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles on the skin.

How It Works

Linden has numerous medicinal compounds, which include quercitin, rutin, kaempferol, volatile oils, mucilage, and other flavonoids. These flavonoids, along with p -coumaric, seem to be responsible for diaphoretic and antispasmodic properties found in linden.

The sedative properties found in linden flowers are associated with the volatile oils citral, citronellal, eugenol, and limonene, which work to relax the brain.

Herbs with sedative effects are lemon balm and lavender, whereas guelder rose can help relieve muscle cramps.

Linden Side Effects

Linden is likely safe for most people when taken orally. However, it can cause mild skin irritation when applied topically.

Cautions

Excessive use of linden has been linked to heart damage, so those who suffer from heart disease, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should not consume it. Likewise, children should not use linden medicinally without medical supervision.

How to Consume Linden

Quick Facts (How to Consume)
  • Edible partsFlowers, Leaves

While it is occasionally used for culinary dishes, the most effective way of obtaining linden's health benefits is in its medicinal forms, where the properties are more concentrated.

Natural Forms

  • Infusions. One of the most popular medicinal forms, linden infusions have long been used for treating insomnia, due to its sedative properties. Linden hot teas have also been used soothe airways.

Herbal Remedies & Supplements

  • Tinctures. A linden tincture can relieve muscle spasms, thanks to its antispasmodic properties. It can also promote better quality sleep with its sedative properties and aid in digestion.

  • Capsules. In its most concentrated medicinal form, linden capsules can relieve muscle spasms because of its antispasmodic properties, as well as aid in digestion.

Buying

Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySpecialized health stores, Online herb stores

Natural Forms

If linden trees are native to an individual's place of residence, buying linden may be rendered unnecessary by a walk around the neighborhood. For others, linden trees can be found at many garden stores and nurseries that carry large flora. Its leaves and flowers are available in specialized health stores both fresh and dried.

Herbal Remedies & Supplements

Online retailers are great for getting linden remedial forms and supplements to consumers who live outside native regions.

Growing

Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsFlowers, Leaves, Wood
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilPeaty
  • Soil pH6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral), 7.4 – 7.8 (Slightly alkaline)
  • Growing habitatCool temperate regions
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones3a (From −40 °C (−40 °F) to −37.2 °C (−35 °F)), 3b (From −37.2 °C (−35 °F) to −34.4 °C (−30 °F)), 4a (From −34.4 °C (−30 °F) to −31.7 °C (−25 °F)), 4b (From −31.7 °C (−25 °F) to −28.9 °C (−20 °F)), 5a (From −28.9 °C (−20 °F) to −26.1 °C (−15 °F)), 5b (From −26.1 °C (−15 °F) to −23.3 °C (−10 °F)), 6a (From −23.3 °C (−10 °F) to −20.6 °C (−5 °F)), 6b (From −20.6 °C (−5 °F) to −17.8 °C (0 °F)), 7a (From −17.8 °C (0 °F) to −15 °C (5 °F)), 7b (From −15 °C (5 °F) to −12.2 °C (10 °F)), 8a (From −12.2 °C (10 °F) to −9.4 °C (15 °F)), 8b (From −9.4 °C (15 °F) to −6.7 °C (20 °F))
  • Propagation techniquesCuttings
  • Potential insect pestsAphids
  • Potential diseasesPhytophthora spp.

Beloved for its low-maintenance upkeep, linden is a deciduous tree that grows best in partial shade to full sun. Linden species can grow up to 80-100 feet (24-30 m) and spread about 40 feet (12 m) wide. It is a great shade tree to have in open landscapes or residential streets.

Growing Guidelines

  • Linden trees grow best if given full sun and rich, moist, well-drained soil. However, they tolerate light shade, as well as clay soils, a wide pH range, and heat.

  • The primary method of propagation of linden species is by seed, but it can also be propagated by cuttings, layering, or grafting.

  • The best time to collect linden seeds is Autumn. They must be kept in a cool and moist environment for 90 days, to ensure a successful germination after being sown in Summer.

  • The proper temperature for seeds' germination is 85°F (29°C) during the day and 65°F (18°C) at night.

  • Linden trees have moderate tolerance to drought and prefer a moist soil to thrive.

  • In June, the trees produce abundant, two to three-inch (5 - 7.6 cm) wide clusters of very fragrant, light yellow blooms, which are extremely attractive to bees. The small, grey nut which is later produced will persist on the tree until midwinter.

  • It is important not to plant the seed too deeply and to transplant saplings when necessary so that each has enough space for root expansion.

Additional Information

Plant Biology

While it is a slow-growing tree, linden trees can grow up to 130 feet (39 m), with average heights around 80-100 feet (24-30 m) tall. Linden leaves are heart-shaped and asymmetrical. The tree produces beautiful, fragrant yellow flowers that appear in the summer and attract bees.

  • Classification

    Linden is a member of the Tiliaceae family, a botanical group composed by trees, shrubs, or rarely herbs, comprising about 450 species across 50 genera.
  • Related Species

    There are roughly 30 species in the Tilia genus, but the most widespread species are the small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata), which is typical of Central Europe, and the native American linden (Tilia americana), found across North America. Asian species are significantly more diverse, and they are used relatively interchangeably for the same ornamental and health benefits.

Historical Information

The Vikings used its wood to make battle shields, and during the 17th and 18th centuries, it was also used in landscape planning to form European avenues. It also boasts a long history of use in herbal medicine to treat respiratory problems, and medieval altars were sometimes carved from its beautiful white wood.

Economic Data

Linden products remain in high demand today, as millions of tons of its herbal tea are exported from Chinaeach year and continue in popular use through alternative medicinal methods. Honey made from its flowers is a popular sweetener exported from central Europe, and recent years have seen the European Linden increasingly introduced across the Atlantic to replace its American counterpart, which experts are predicting to be 42% less suitable for planting by the year 2050.

Popular Beliefs

Centuries ago, hunters used to follow bees back to their hives after the bees sucked the nectar from linden blossoms. Once the bees were in the hives,hunters would gather the honey from there, believing that linden blossoms made for the best honey.

Both the Czech and Slovak Republics have claimed it as their national tree, and Slovenia continues the European tradition of political meetingsbeneath its largest specimen. In Berlin, linden trees are considered one of the city's emblems, and its presence gives name to the city's most famous avenue, Unter den Linden.

Other Uses of Linden

  • Ornamental. Linden'shistory as an ornamental tree dates back hundreds of years, and still asymbol of the ancient European woodland. One-third of the streets of Berlin are lined with its beauty.

  • Timber.American types of linden were long used for timber, though the practicehas ceased in modern times. However, its soft wood that can be easily manipulated.

  • Musical instruments. Because of how soft of a wood linden is, it is an ideal material for manufacturing electric guitars, bass guitars, and different wind instruments.

Bibliography

  • USDA Plants Database, Tilia americana L.
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine Medicinal Plants of the World
  • Royal Horticultural Society, Tilia cordata
  • Planta Medica, Analysis of linden flower mucilage, 1983
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Chemical constituents of Tilia taquetii leaves and their inhibition of MMP-1 expression and elastase activities Retrieved on May 25, 2016 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25632458
  • European Medicines Agency. (2012). Assessment report on Tilia cordata Miller, Tilia platyphyllos Scop., Tilia x vulgaris Heyne or their mixtures, flos Retrived on May 25, 2016 from http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Herbal_-_HMPC_assessment_report/2012/07/WC500129850.pdf