Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • June 2018
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Linden — Tilia spp

The fragrant blossoms of the linden tree are a sight to behold when in bloom. With a scent compared to jasmine and a honey-like taste, linden flowers are worth keeping on hand for times of stress or overwhelm. Also known as the basswood or lime tree, linden tree leaves make a fabulous addition to a spring salad or, when using the flowers, a delicious calming tea.

Linden trees can be found widely planted as ornamentals, and also in hardwood forests or river flood plains. The tree produces a straight trunk up to and sometimes exceeding 100 feet in height and about three feet in diameter. Trees can be found clumped together as the trees tend to send up several young shoots at its base. The trunks become hollow as the trees age and become dens for wildlife. Sam Thayer describes the linden tree as “One of the most abundant and well-known trees in the East, basswood is an important component of mesic hardwood forests.”

The key components consist of flavonoids (including quercetin, kaempferol, hesperidin, etc.), phenolic aicds, mucilage, tannins and volatile oils. Further, its actions include: nervine, hypotensive, diaphoretic, diuretic, anticoagulant, mild sedative and calming tonic. Linden’s energetics are cooling and moistening, the taste includes the cool and moist properties as one nibbles on a leaf or drinks a cup of tea.

Linden supports several systems in the body, such as digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and urinary and Matthew Wood even states its use for the reproductive system. Its most notable use is for the nervous system as it is a gentle but fast-acting calming tonic. It is listed as supporting the body with digestive discomfort, indigestion, diarrhea, nervous vomiting, nervousness, tension, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, nervous headaches, and hyperactivity. It further supports systems dealing with nervous hypertension, palpitation and cramping, colds and flu, fever, cough, edema, and dark, scanty urine.

The leaves are primarily used as spring salad additions and the entire bract, consisting of a tongue shaped leaf attached to the flower, is used as a water infusion (tisane), syrup or tincture. The flowers from the T. cordata variety are said to have the sweetest tasting flowers, but the literature states that all species can be used interchangeably. The leaves can be collected and used from when they first unfurl (the best time to use them) and even until the tree starts to flower. They become fibrous and bitter as they fully mature. The flowers typically appear in late June or early July.

Collect young linden leaves along with dandelion, violet, chickweed, young lemon balm or other springtime edibles, toss with homemade vinaigrette and add nuts, dried fruit or edible flowers for a beautiful and highly nutritious meal. 

Try this tasty and calming herbal tisane as a bedtime treat to soothe jangled nerves or high energy children:

  • 1 teaspoon dried linden flowers
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon balm leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers

Combine in a steeping vessel. Pour one cup of boiling water over the dry herbs and infuse for five to 10 minutes. (Steeping chamomile longer than 2-5 minutes enhances its bitter flavor and is not as appetizing for children.)

As always, please talk to your health care provider before adding herbs into your diet.

References: “The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.” Bridgette Mars. Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2007.

“Midwest Medicinal Plants.” Lisa Rose. Timber Press, Inc. 2017.

“The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants.” Sam Thayer. Forager’s Harvest. 2006.

“The Way of Herbs.” Michael Tierra. Pocket Books. 1998.

“The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants.” Matthew Wood. North Atlantic Books. 2008.

Dana Schlies

Dana is a Certified Women’s Herbal Educator and Community Herbalist. She is passionate about educating women about the many botanical and alternative methods to bring the body into balance and create vibrant, healthy living. She utilizes a comprehensive approach including environment, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and botanicals to bring support to the whole body. She is part of the team at Sweet Willow Naturals, and can be reached at 920-530-1188 or [email protected]

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