Linden (Tilia)

One of my favorite trees, Linden is steeped in history & symbolism. Linden tree’s are a symbol of love, fertility, prosperity, fidelity, friendship, peace, justice and good luck.

It’s the national tree of multiple Slavic countries where it’s considered to be sacred, Slavic mythology is full of stories referring to Linden trees. Many were planted to mark historic events and the oldest in Slovenia is believed to be more than 700 years old.

Linden is also very special in Germanic mythology. It’s said that the community would gather under a Linden tree to make truthful decisions in regards to justice. Apparently you can’t lie when standing under a linden.

I’ve often dreamed of planting a Linden in my garden, but they grow to 40m, so that’s just not possible. Luckily I often find big rows of them in old country towns around New Zealand. They were planted after WW1 to celebrate & symbolise Peace. There’s often a row down the main street or in the local park.

Linden makes a delicious, nourishing & relaxing cup of tea, containing many vitamins, antioxidant flavonoids, soothing mucilage, tannins or volatile oils.  

 The sweet flowers are full of nectar which attracts huge amounts of bees, a Linden tree in flower can literally sound like a buzzing hive of activity.

 Linden is used as a nervine tonic, from treating headaches & digestive problems to inducing sleep. It’s been used for centuries in Europe. In France it’s known as Tilleul. When I asked my French partner if he’d heard of it, he replied “of course, everyone knows it, you drink it before going to bed”. Enough said.

 Linden is often used to treat anxiety & tension, especially tense shoulders, muscle cramping, tension headaches, painful menstrual cramps, etc. Also good for difficulty sleeping due to excessive tension. It has a minor effect on your hormone levels, inducing a state of relaxation for both the mind & body.

 Linden is also also anti-spasmodic and can be used for indigestion or even stagnant digestion. It is especially useful for those high strung, who have trouble digesting foods due to excitement or stress. 

 Linden is traditionally used to treat colds, stuffy nose, sore throat, breathing problems (bronchitis),  & fever. It’s often combined with Peppermint & Elderflower or Yarrow to promote sweating and cool the body.

 To gather Linden, look for the huge flowering trees just before Christmas in New Zealand. Gently tug off the flowers and surrounding leaves. You’ll notice that the surrounding leaves are long and a pale green color (unlike the rest of the tree where they’re fatter & darker green). Use fresh or dry for later use. To make an infusion place the young leaves & flowers into a pot, cover in just boiled water and infuse for 10mins. Strain & drink.

 This is a delicious tea that I enjoy on a hot summers day, and is also nice chilled.

 You might hear of Linden also called Lime. No it’s not a type of citrus. The name Lime derives from Middle English ‘lind’ . If you’re looking for true Linden, make sure it’s in the ‘Tilia’ family (there’s over 30 species).

1 comment

  • Thanks so much for this article. I am from Switzerland where you will find old Linden trees planted next to the farm houses or at holly places. We would always use it as a tea in winter to prevent illness.

    Nadja Haisty

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