Characteristics of a Linden Tree

The Linden tree is quite common in American landscapes; some people refer to this tree as basswood. The scientific name is Tilia and it is valued as a hardy tree by designers of residential and commercial landscapes. There are several different species from which to choose. While it is a bit overused and has it problems, nothing is grander than a street lined with the formal Linden. Lindens have some common characteristics.


The most attractive quality of this tree to designers is its form. Tilia species have a large upright pyramidal form that fits formal landscapes perfectly. Many designers will use this tree in long, elegant rows repeating the uniform shape to give line and shape to the landscape. Homeowners who appreciate a tidy, manicured garden appreciate this shape because it never looks too wild or unkempt.

Leaf Shape

The leaves on most Tilia species with the exception of the difficult Mongolian Linden, is distinctly heart-shaped with a fine- to medium-toothed edge. Leaves are glossy and smooth and a lustrous dark green, with a paler softer color on the underside. The Silver Linden leaf has an eye-catching silvery underside.


Yellow- to white-tinged flowers appear in late June or early July, at a time when not a lot of other trees are in flower. The fragrant flowers also have the notoriety of being narcotic or even poisonous on some species to bees. In Michael Dirr's, "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants," he says, "I've see strange bee-havior under the canopy of the Linden."

Pest and Disease

Japanese beetle and aphids can be a nuisance on the Linden species. While there is a control for these pests, the maintenance might become too limiting once the tree grows to mature size. Anthracnose and verticillium wilt, fungal disease can be a problem in some species. Choose species that are resistant to these infections. There are also a long list of pests that invade the American Linden, which can become a real maintenance problem.

Species Selection

Consider planting the Tilia x euchlora (Crimean Linden), literature states that it may not be as susceptible to aphids as other species. Tilia tomentosa Sterling would be another excellent choice from the Silver Linden species. It has showy heart-shaped leaves with silver undersides that twinkle in the sunlight. Sterling is also resistant to gypsy moth and Japanese beetle attacks.

Keywords: tree selection, Linden tree, Linden Tilia

About this Author

Nanette Alton is a registered landscape architect in Michigan, employed by the Michigan Department of Transportation and formerly a landscape architect for Michigan State University where she learned horticulture and landscape design from plant and design experts. Alton earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Michigan State University and studied design at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan.