Simply The Best Natives-The American Linden


Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.  ~Khalil Gibran



There is something special about a tree.  A tall, straight old tree that has lived many years and grown to enormous heights.  I imagine them as wise old sages.  And then there are the new, younger, barely a stick trees brought in to take the place of the fallen mighty.  So fragile, I think they will not make it through the howling , harsh winter.  

tree-logoI have profiled my bigger, more stately, trees in years past for Lucy@Loose and Leafy’s Tree Following meme that happens around the 7th of every month.  This year I thought I would watch my newer tree, bought to replace a mighty ash that was felled.  By the time it starts to grow bigger, the other trees will have gone to their rest too.

And I am only planting native trees in an effort to add to the habitat for the critters who live here.  The tree I am following this year is Tilia americana or the American Linden, also known as American Basswood, Lime tree and Bee tree.  And of course it is part of the Linden Family (Tiliaceae).

Tilia americana is native to eastern North America, from New England down to Florida across to Texas, up to North Dakota and all points in between, as well as large part of eastern and central Canada.

Tilia americana is considered a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching a height of 60 to 120 ft and a trunk diameter of 3–4 ft. The crown is domed with the branches spreading, and my little tree is already showing these attributes.  The bark is gray to light brown. The roots are large, and spread deeply.  The leaves open from the bud to pale green to yellow-green or yellow in autumn.  

The flowers (pictured above) are small, fragrant, yellowish-white in drooping clusters.  The tree flowers in early to mid summer, and the fruit that forms is small, eventually becoming a dry nutlet.amanda

As I profile this wonderful native tree, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme.  And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out her wonderful 2015 Spring Catalog to see which natives Ellen is selling this year.




Growing Conditions

DSCN7792The best way to propagate Tilia americana is through cuttings and grafting although it will sucker rapidly.  It is one of the most difficult native North American trees to propagate by seed.  This tree is susceptible to disease and insect attacks, especially Japanese beetles that feed on its leaves.

It can tolerate sun to shade, dry to moist conditions, and likes especially rich loamy, moist, well-drained soil.  I amended the soil in the large hole we dug before we planted the small 4-foot starter tree. Thankfully this tree grows at a medium to fast rate.




Benefits to Wildlife 

Tilia americana’s flowers are pollinated by bees and provide abundant nectar for insects.  It is a DSCN5811wonderful tree for attracting pollinators. There are so many bees covering the flowers, it is sometimes called, Bee tree.  And bees will produce a wonderful honey, with a mildly spicy flavor, from its blooms.

The seeds are sometimes eaten by small mammals such as chipmunks, mice, and squirrels.

It is said rabbits and voles eat the bark, which could produce girdling in young trees, so we keep an eye on it all year, and protect the tree bark in winter.

The leaves host 149 species of Lepidoptera, the majority of butterflies and moths I see in my garden.

Because this tree’s wood rots easily, birds will use holes in the trunk as a nesting place.  Sounds Like a great tree for wildlife as it grows into its spot in the Center Garden.





fruit of linden treeTilia americana is also a great ornamental tree that gives lots of shade, and is often sought after because of this wonderful attribute.  Many gardeners love its form, leaves and fragrant flowers.  But it can be difficult to find plants that will grow under its dense shade.

The wood from this tree is largely used in the making of crates, boxes, yardsticks and furniture.  The wood is also commonly used in the making of electric guitars.

The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal from this tree are also used medicinally.  Linden tea, made from flowers, contains antioxidants, and is said to reduce inflammation, and treat such things as colds, cough, fever, infections, high blood pressure and headaches (especially migraines).  

It is common to treat a cold or insomnia by taking a hot bath in the flowers, and then drinking a tea made from the flowers.

The wood is used to treat liver and gallbladder problems, and when burned and ingested it can treat intestinal disorders.

The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent, and the flowers are used in beauty products. 




Folklore and Tales 

Native Americans made tea from the inner bark to treat lung disorders and upset stomach.  They also made ropes, nets, shoes, clothing, thread and woven mats from the inner bark by soaking and separatingDSCN5145 the fibers.

Folk medicine, practiced by settlers, used the buds, leaves, and flowers to treat headaches and insomnia. 

In both Europe and America, there has been much mysticism associated with Linden trees. It is said the tree’s spirit can teach us about healing and seeing the beauty within, and it represents the spirit of the poet and the dreamer which is reflected in its heart-shaped leaves that are shiny on the under side.  

Here in NY, the tree has a rich history with the local Iroquois tribe, and its False Face Society.  It was said that ritual masks were carved on these trees, then split away from the tree to dry.  If the tree survived, the mask was believed to have supernatural powers.

Linden trees are said to remind us to follow our heart’s desires, and gives us strength to pursue our dreams especially those tucked away and forgotten.  A perfect tree for me to grow in my garden as my dreams continue to grow for the future.



linden collage

Do you grow any native trees?  Do you have a favorite tree?




In A Vase On Monday 


I am cheating a bit this week because I wanted to show you the vases I put together for my birthday in late May.  That day I had the house to myself, and it was such a gloriously sunny, warm day I had to go outside and gather some flowers.  The irises had just started blooming, and I love irises.


bday bouquet

This yellow bearded iris took me by surprise as I had never seen them bloom before by the pond.  And the lighter purple Siberian irises were the first to bloom this year.  Of course I had to add a couple of the blue lupines or Lupinus perennis just growing in my meadow.  So what to round out, and fill out this vase.  Well of course the amazing Golden Alexanders or Zizia aurea that were blooming in the Center Garden.



bday bouquet cake

Yes that is a cheesecake you see there.  My husband is a NY State Fair Cheesecake ribbon winner.  So when he told me he was making me one for my birthday, I just had to decorate it with some of the pansies and violas I grew from seed and that were blooming strong.  There were a few extra that I picked that wouldn’t fit on the cake, so I decided to float them in my cut crystal bowl.  I love the look.




Here is what the two vases looked like together….I really do love purple and yellow in spring. The Golden Alexanders have such an intoxicating sweet scent I had never noticed before.  I love that they are spreading in my meadow.  I wrote a lovely poem about my meadow that sports purple, white and yellow flowers now.




I did make one more small vase this week with some of the other lovely flowers blooming at the moment:  Spanish Bluebells or Hyacinthoides, Wild Geranium or Geranium maculatum, Allium, and an orange Geum.



sm allium vase

I do enjoy when purple and orange mix in my garden and in this vase…..and boy are we surrounded by purple now.  I think that will be a predominant color in vases to come in June until the peonies open.

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday, I will be showing what’s in bloom in the garden…lots of beautiful flowers and some surprises.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

96 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-The American Linden”

  1. When we moved here, the garden already had some huge ancient native trees, oaks, ash and horse chestnuts, 6 of each. We think some of them must be at least 300 yrs old from the diameter of the trunks. I have also planted silver birch and rowan, so I think I can say, Yes, we have plenty of native trees which the wildlife love!

  2. Belated birthday wishes Donna! The vases look wonderful (as does the cheesecake!) and I especially love that orange Geum. Great to read all about Linden trees too. I love the fragrance as well. 🙂

  3. I enjoyed learning about the American Linden today Donna – a tree that wasn’t on my radar – not that I can plant more trees (in this garden anyway). Sounds lovely and that is an impressive number of supported lepidoptera – Douglas Tallamy would be proud! A Black-billed Cuckoo would also appreciate all those lepidoptera caterpillars – a very cool bird that visited my garden yesterday! I look forward to watching this tree grow. I hope that it fends off any disease. I think with a balanced habitat such as yours, you will not have any severe problems. I just came across a patch of purple and yellow iris and thought my what a beautiful combination – such as your vase! Perhaps flower arrangements are in your future.

    1. Oh my a Cuckoo in your garden Kathy…what a treat. I have never seen them. My husband keeps saying I have a talent…I say it is just a fun creative outlet with the vases.

  4. What interesting facts you have gathered about the stately Linden tree, it’s gorgeous. I think around here they use them a lot as parking lot trees, durable, and hardy, and needing very little water.

    Ah purple and yellow, or purple and orange, perfect colors put together, speaking of the times when we move from spring to summer. Love the flowers that you have put together.


  5. I enjoyed the information on your Linden tree. I’m always impressed with how much our traditional medicines come from plants-of course that’s true worldwide and botanicals continue to be a main source for medicines. Gorgeous close-up shots!

    1. Thanks Tina….I love writing about how we use our plants as we forget so much of the history of our plants.

  6. Hello Donna, just I miss saying it, happy belated Birthday! The Linden tree sounds wonderful. A great addition to your yard. I love the irises in the vase, a pretty sight to enjoy inside. Wonderful post and info. Have a happy Monday and new week ahead!

  7. Everything looks scumptious!

    And what a good choice in terms of the American linden. I’ve heard great things about this tree. If you have the space to let it grow (which it sounds like you do), you will be benefiting *countless* bees, birds and other critters for many years to come! Good job!!

    1. Thanks Aaron…yes we have space and a need to replace our tall ash trees which will eventually have to come down…so hurry up Linden and grow!

  8. Donna, your Linden tree certainly has many attributes. Loved the detailed information you give. We are also in a tree planting phase, one Rowan and one Birch, I think I would place Birch as my favourite deciduous tree.

    1. I love birch as well Alistair. It was a favorite of my father due to the bark. Here they are hard to grow as the ice, snow and wind can break them in two easily. They need a bit of protection to survive and grow big enough to withstand the elements.

  9. What a rich, informative, and beautiful post. The only thing I missed was seeing a photo of a fully grown Linden, but I’ll look them up. So glad you’ve planted a new tree for your birthday! (Well, maybe not entirely, but the two are wonderfully correlated…) My irises have all finished now, it was wonderful to see yours and I loved your vase. Be well!

  10. I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Donna – a cheescake seems like a good start to me. I love the yellow and purple bouquet – my 2 favorite colors. I wish I could grow Zizia – its a perfect filler for a vase. Your orange and purple mix is very pretty too.

    1. Zizia is wonderful Kris….wonderful scent and boy does it last long in a vase…the cheesecake was a perfect birthday cake!

  11. Mmm…is that baked cheesecake? Yellow and blue always looks good, and orange and purple works surprisingly well too. Thanks for sharing. Hope you enjoyed your birthday too – how nice to have a May birthday…. 🙂

    1. Yes Cathy that is a baked cheesecake completely from scratch even the crust. I have purple and orange growing together in the garden and love the look….my birthday was wonderful and May is a perfect month for a gardener’s birthday!

  12. I enjoyed your informative tree following post Donna, your vases on a Monday as well as drooling over that delicious looking cheesecake. The pansies and violas atop make it look even more tempting 🙂

  13. Having only introduced tress into my garden last year, 5 in total 3 are native and 2 are not. I had no knowledge of the Linden tree other than it’s name. I have a co worker called Linden and inquired many years ago as to how he got his name. Linden trees here are only native to the south coast of the UK.
    Loved reading all the information you’ve provided us with Donna, interesting that it is a host to all those insects.
    Love the yellow/purple vases, they are gorgeous. A belated Happy Birthday too.

    1. Thanks and so glad you liked the Linden tree Angie and I did not know it was only native to the south coast of the UK.

  14. We are surrounded by ancient cedar trees and understory alders, so when we plant trees, they are usually not natives.
    You are doubly blessed: beautiful flowers and a husband who bakes cheesecake.

  15. How nice to teach us all about a linden tree. This sounds nice: “It is common to treat a cold or insomnia by taking a hot bath in the flowers, and then drinking a tea made from the flowers.” As for your irises, so beautiful in purple and yellow! A belated happy birthday to you.

  16. I have a Halleria, tree fuchsia, and despite being so new to our garden I see the first flowers. Nectar, then berries, for the birds.

  17. Have always liked the heart shaped leaf of the Linden.
    We do have native trees: Pin Oak; Scarlet Oak; Dogwood; White Pine; Hemlock (state tree); Sweet Gum; River Birch; and my all time favorite Service Berry aka June Berry.
    Gayle atMuldoon

  18. Hi Donna
    There is a Linden St. just around the corner from us and yes, it’s lined with linden trees. Wonderfully fragrant when in bloom, wish we had one in front of our home instead of a Norway Maple.
    Love the vase with the blue and yellow irises, a favourite colour combo.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

  19. There is a Linden tree right by the post office and I used to stand there and inhale the fragrance when I would get the mail for work. Unfortunately they are a magnet for aphids and last year many bees lost their lives thanks to an unscrupulous chemical sprayer. But the upside is that they’re learning from that disaster.

    Love your pretty flowers.

    1. Oh that is awful Grace…such a wonderful tree and I bet birds and other insects would probably take care of those aphids.

  20. Donna, these are all such beautiful mosaics! All of them so very unique. My favorite tree would be either a dogwood or redbud in the spring 🙂

  21. I’m glad you’re following a linden tree, Donna. It’s new to me, and so it’s great to read about it. A tree that helps us pursue our dreams is wonderful!!

  22. Donna your Linden tree sounds lovely, with an interesting history, it is amazing how much benefit to wildlife just one tree can bring,

    regarding your recent comments about my yellow lupin, I did reply to your comment on my blog but you probably don’t have time to check and read replies, I wish I could use the comment reply but it does not work on blogs, it’s only for people who have their own url and use blog, anyway, the lemon lupin died winter 2013/14, due to all the wet and my not being able to get into the garden, the tough horrid grass grew over it and smothered the plant, this is what the really bad grass I have here does, it’s worse than horsetails, as it is growing all year in this wet temperate climate, Frances

    1. Oh I am so sorry to hear about your yellow lupines Frances…hopefully they may reappear in the future one day!

      1. it is dead Donna, it will never reappear, I would need to buy another plant, with all this rain and now the cold this summer I am not wasting money buying another one,

        1. Oh I am sorry Frances….I can understand that with your not so welcome weather you would not want to go to the expense of buying more. I do hope you can get a shift in your summer weather…here we are getting rain. 12 inches so far just in June and lots of flooding. It always seems to be some extreme these days…never a balance.

  23. Donna, apologies, I am reading your posts and my internet speed is dire, so no chance of looking at your photographs. Happy belated birthday wishes too, by others comments the cheesecake looked good!! 🙂

  24. 60-120ft – wow that is a bit tree – not for your average suburban block I think! I like to have trees in my yard for shade and to bring in the birds. But I can’t have big trees here so fruit trees will suffice. Have a great week and thank you for stopping by my blog. Your vase of flowers is beautiful.

    1. Thanks Jill. Yes we have almost an acre lot and many large ash trees on the property. Because of the Emerald Ash Borer, we will lose all of our large canopy and shade, so the linden should help give shade once the ash trees are gone.

    1. Well the deer like to eat it, the bees love the flowers and the birds love to perch in it even though it is little…so far a favorite tree in the garden….it will be a great wildlife tree in the future too!

    1. As you might remember Donna, we have ash trees and the EAB in our county so we are hoping the linden will take over and provide shade as we lose the ash trees…although I highly doubt it will grow that fast. It did leap 2 feet this year.

  25. What a pretty vase here today friend! Your post came at a very hard time for me and was very helpful. My maple in my front shade garden was just assessed today by an arborist and I was told that it has girdled root and will not survive much longer. My study is on right now as I begin to focus in on natives to replace it with. We hope to get another year or so from the maple but we shall see. Such a wonderful feature today on the Linden. Happy Week Donna! Nicole

    1. Thanks Nicole and I am sorry to hear about your maple…we will be losing all our ash trees in the future due to an invading beetle…so we are hoping this Linden tree will replace the big ash trees to give us shade…of course it may take 20 years.

  26. Very interesting information about the Tilia… and your vases are gorgeous. I too like very much of the colour combinations, and each flower is also so very beautiful.
    Oh, it must be lovely when a Cheesecake ribbon winner makes a birthday cake for you! 🙂
    Belated Happy Birthday!

  27. Thank you for teaching us about linden trees Donna, I hope you enjoyed that cheesecake and had a wonderful birthday. Thanks for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro ♥

  28. Thanks for the informative post about your tree. It’s amazing to discover the histories behind trees and the uses people have found for them throughout the years (besides shade!). Any tree that supports wildlife is a friend indeed. Great post and pictures!

  29. Oh, I fell off the tree meme thing even though I did start initially, I just had too many posts to write – and too many other things to do! I enjoyed your post though, I love linden trees, not sure what the specific American one is compared to others but I am off to Google it now!
    Loved your vases and cheesecake, nice to see spring flowers when my garden is all done with them 🙂
    A belated Happy Birthday!

  30. The only native tree I have is a serviceberry. I like the flowers in spring and the robins love the fruit when it appears in June.
    I did not know anything about Linden trees and now I do. Thank you for that. Your bouquets are lovely especially the one with the irises. Belated Happy Birthday wishes by the way!

    1. Thanks Jennifer….I have wanted a serviceberry and hope to try one again. The first one died mostly due to deer nibbles.

  31. I love orange and purple too. The pansies and violas flowers look superb in the bowl, I think they’re definitely among my fave flowers. It’s great that you’re focussing on natives. We seem to be following parallel journeys. I’ve drunk Linden tea, but never thought where it came from.

    1. Sue we do seem to be on parallel journeys….my pansies/violas are still flowering but a bit leggy. I hope I can coax them to bloom again in fall.

  32. Have just discovered your wonderful blog via Denise@An English Girl Rambles. Such beautiful photos and a wealth of information! I will be looking out for the Linden tree in my woods now. Thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful information about native plants. I will be following along now on Bloglovin and looking forward to learning much more about the plants in my landscape 🙂

  33. Hi Donna! Happy belated birthday!
    I love tilia very much because in St. Petersburg there are many of them grown in the streets. And I always know that the days are warmer when I see tilia new leaves in spring. Very nice tree.
    Your vases with irises are pretty as always .

  34. As a linden lover, loved this. Not much difference to look at in our limes (as well Brits call Tilias) and both are natives. The soft-focus image of your sapling is charming – what fun to watch it grow.
    p.s. what a divine looking cheesecake – decorated so prettily pps if I missed birthday wishes, I send them now. Happy Birthday for May!

    1. Our tilia cousins seem very much the same Laura and aren’t we both lucky to have them. Thanks for the birthday wishes too!

  35. An electric guitar tree! And loads of information. (Feeling sad for the trees the masks were made from!)
    Apologies for being so late in visiting. I’ve been away quite a lot recently – which has provided much material for posts but also means I’ve been separated from my laptop.
    I’ve amended your entry on the Loose and Leafy Tree Following Page. Perhaps you might check it’s right?

    1. It seems we do get so busy this time of year…I am way behind in blog reading myself….glad you enjoyed the info on my tree and yes that is the correct info on the Tree Following Page…thanks Lucy!

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