The littleleaf linden is a non-native species of tree that is frequently used as an ornamental tree in the United States. Also known by its scientific name, Tilia cordata, the littleleaf linden is native to Europe. Its vertical and symmetrical form make it a popular choice as an accent tree for landscaping. It is also grown for its wood, which is soft and easy to work.
Littleleaf linden trees are large, expansive trees. They usually produce a single leader trunk that supports evenly spaced, horizontal branches that bend slightly toward the ground. The leaves of the plant are light to dark green, glossy, rounded with a slight point and deeply veined with serrated edges. They range from 1 to 2 inches long. The tree produces small, fragrant, yellow flowers in the spring that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
This is a relatively fast-growing tree, usually adding over 2 feet of growth per year. It does tend to grow a bit more slowly than other types of linden. The tree grows well in hardiness zones 4 through 7. It adapts easily to urban situations and is tolerant of air pollution, compacted soil and poor drainage.
Little leaf lindens can grow up to 80 feet tall and can spread to 50 feet. The tree's canopy is dense and rounded to pyramidal in form. The little leaf linden is popular with architects and landscapers, due to its predictable shape and size. The branches of the tree tend to droop toward the ground.
Little leaf lindens grow well in full sun or partial shade. The tree appreciates moist, well-drained soils and can handle short periods of excessive moisture, but is not particularly tolerant of drought conditions and tends to scorch easily. Soils should ideally be acidic and loamy clay in consistency, although the plant can tolerate heavier soils. Little leaf lindens are relatively easy to transplant. Young plants should be irrigated regularly until established. The tree has a poor salt tolerance and may suffer if planted to closely to roads in areas where salt is frequently use for de-icing.
Little leaf lindens are often planted by communities to line streets, due to their fast rate of growth and symmetrical form. They make excellent shade trees and are often use for that purpose in yards. The tree is also cultivated for its wood, which is clear, white, soft and popular for making kitchen utensils, inexpensive furniture and bee hives. Little leaf linden blossoms can be brewed as a tea.