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Linden Tree Questions

By Jack S. Waverly ; Updated September 21, 2017

Linden trees are one of the more common types of tree along the Eastern seaboard of the United States and part of Canada. This tree has long been known by people living in the Eastern US as far back as its inhabitance by Native American tribes. Linden trees are known by many names, and can be identified by the foliage, bark, height and location. Many uses have been found for different parts of the Linden tree as well.

What Is a Linden Tree?

The linden tree is a deciduous tree with a thin gray bark. Observation of the stump of a linden tree will show root sprouts shooting from the tree resulting in an eventual group of linden trees in a single location. Look for linden trees to be fast growing and long aging.

Are There Other Names for Linden Trees?

Linden trees are also known as basswood, bee tree, whitewood and limetree (not to be confused with the fruit bearing lime tree).

What Are the Different Types of Linden Trees?

You'll find a variety of trees that fall within the linden family. These include the American linden, greenspire, silver linden, Redmond and littleleaf linden varieties. The American linden was the most common variety to be used for landscapes in the latter portion of the 20th century because of its adaptability to a wide range of soil and acidity levels. Looking at the leaves of the littleleaf linden will tell you how this tree got its name; this variety has a broad crown and is less formal looking. Identify the Redmond variety by both the pyramid shape in growth and that the current year's branches will turn reddish colors when autumn arrives. Greenspire linden grows in a narrow upright oval shape.

What Does the Foliage Look Like?

Seeing flowers hanging from a leafy ribbon of green bracts in long clusters is a sign of finding a linden tree. Look for very small five-petal flowers with yellow-white petals. Smells from the flowers are powerful between the end of May through the beginning of July, as stated by the University of Florida Extension. Bees love flowers from linden trees because of the nectar that produces a strong honey flavor; the tree got the name bee tree because of the amount of bees that congregate around the tree when the flowers are in bloom. Observe the leaves as being shaped like hearts. The leaves grow to a length of 6 inches and a width of 4 inches. Look for a dark green color with a bright and shiny underside.

What Does the Bark Look Like?

Woodcarvers know the wood of a linden tree to be soft, creamy and easy to work with. The inner bark is fibrous. Observe the furrows and unique serpentine shaped ridges rising up the trunk to help identify this tree. Look for gray-brown colored bark that is a lighter shade in younger trees and becomes darker as the tree ages.

How Tall Does a Linden Tree Get?

Lindens are very tall trees that can reach up to 125 feet in height, according to the University of Florida Extension service, with a diameter of up to 3 feet around the trunk. Specific varieties have different growth rates and height. While the American linden grows to a height of 90 feet, the littleleaf linden grows between 60 to 70 feet high with a spread of 30 to 40 feet wide.

Where Do I Find Linden Trees?

Find Linden trees growing along the Atlantic coast as far north as Quebec south to the state of Delaware, and west to the eastern end of Kentucky. Look for this tree in moist valley soil and upland hardwood forests. Different varieties grow in different climate zones; the littleleaf variety grows in zones 3 to 8, while the silverleaf variety grows in zones 4 through 7. Find the American linden in zones 2 through 8. Walk along streams or ponds to find linden trees as they grow along firebreaks as mentioned by the Illinois State Museum.

Are There Any Pest or Disease Problems Associated With the Linden Tree?

Few health problems are associated with this tree family. Insect problems can include Japanese beetles and aphids. While these insects do not cause serious damage to the tree, they can produce honeydew or minor leaf damage. Fungal problems can include sooty mold and cottony maple scale; these look like small white masses on twigs and branches and are not serious threats to the tree but can become a nuisance. The most damage can be done by herbicides applied within the root zone of the tree that is 2 1/2 times the height of the tree; signs of injury can include limp or distorted foliage.

What Uses Does a Linden Tree Have?

Linden trees are used as shade landscape in parks and along streets. Find birds or smaller mammals nesting inside the hollow areas of older trees. According to the 79th Street Boat Basin Flora and Fauna Society, the flowers are used to make perfumes and tea. The society also states that finding broom handles, piano sounding boards and guitar parts made from the wood of Linden trees is common. Use of the bark for cords, ropes and matting by twisting and weaving it. Look for mats made from the thread of the bark stitched together. Native American tribes once used the bark in creating bags for food, ceremonial masks and thongs.