Monday, September 14, 2009

Tuesday’s Trees- Littleleaf Linden

Littleleaf Linden, Tilia cordata is a really nicely shaped tree.

As a young tree it is pyramidal and is more rounded pyramidal in maturity. We have one in the Learning Garden and it is near a Linden or Basswood, Tilia Americana. It was interesting comparing the two. The biggest difference was in the size of the leaf.

This Littleleaf Linden had a girdling root that was removed in a Tree Stewart class. Proper planting is essential.

The Basswood is a younger tree and you can see the smooth bark of a young linden. The bark is narrowly ridged and gray to brown in color as it ages.

The flowers are located on a winged leafy bract, a very noticeable characteristic.
Here is the Littleleaf –

Here is the Basswood –

Both leaves are asymmetrical.

Michael Dirr says that the Littleleaf Linden does not do well in warmer climates. The ones I photographed by the dentist office are a bit stressed while the one in the Learning Garden is shaded a bit and in a natural setting, less concrete.

Spring flowers are fragrant and bees are abundant when flowers are in bloom. This tree is a dense shade tree and is well suited for home landscapes. The zones best suited for the Tilia cordata are 3 to 7. The Basswood is better suited for warmer climates, ranging zones 2-8 (9). Littleleaf Lindens average about 50 feet tall at maturity but can grow to heights of 80- 90. The Basswood grows to about 70 feet tall.
Fall color with both of these Tilia is not very exciting….a dirty yellow to brown in color. More information on the Basswood can be found at UCONN, Missouri Plants, and the Forestry Service, which contradicts some of the range information. Additional information for the Littleleaf Linden located at UCONN, NCState, and an assessment of the tree in the landscape by Ohio State.
After visiting Les' garden and trying to figure out if his was a Littleleaf Linden or a Basswood I did some more research. The LLL fruit is ribbed with 4 ridges and the BW is unribbed, LLL twigs and buds are green/brown and the BW twigs are green/red or gray and the buds are usually red. Every plant profile I reread has the LLL leaf distinctly smaller than the BW. Could the tree at the Botanical Garden be mismarked? Stranger things have happened.
Be sure to click on the pictures for more detail.

Fall color-
From swamp chestnut oak swamp white oak Learning Garden

Next week's tree is Bougainvillea Golden Rain Tree, Koelreuteria bipinnata


  1. Beautiful shaped tree Janet. The flowers are really dainty looking. Too bad it doesn't have more fall color, then it would sound about perfect.

  2. I always assumed I had the American Linden, now I am not so sure. You will have to come over and ID it for me.

  3. That is a big difference between the two. I can't help but think the littleleaf looks similar to a Bradford Pear. I bet it'd be a better replacement, but not here if doesn't do well in the south. My friend has one in her garden. She is from Europe and her father requested that she plant a linden-I'm sure it is littleleaf now that I look at these pictures. They call it the Charlie Brown tree because its form is not good. I thought it most neat. Right after I saw hers I found the variety 'Greenspire' all over at Rural King. I resisted the urge to buy it though-yeah me!

    Any luck on the berry? I found another one yesterday on my deck. I tell you I have no idea where it coming from. We always get pecans here from my neighbors trees so I looked around at their trees, no luck. I am just at a loss.

  4. hi Kathleen, I guess the fragrance and interesting flower bracts make up for the dull fall color.

    Hi Les, Will give it a go. I know you know more tree info than I do...

    Hi Tina, It is certainly a better tree than a Bradford Pear! I think if it is in an area that gets a bit of afternoon shade or is not a super dry area it would be ok....we are zone 7b and have been growing them around here with fairly good success. The dentist office specimen are around a lot of concrete and a major road and heat radiated from the building next to it. Greenspire looks like a great variety.

  5. I like it. I'd give it a go if I had any room. H.

  6. There are Basswoods near us...but none in my garden. It is so essential to plant the right tree in the right place and do it correctly!
    I wish that it would be planted to replace those smelly Bradfords!


  7. I love linden trees! I believe that linden honey is the best type of honey. But where is it? I've never seen it in this country!

  8. I think you just like saying Littleleaf Linden. You're not fooling me.

  9. Hi Helen, It is a nicely shaped tree.

    Hi Gail, Right plant right place and planted properly! Bradfords are not good in oh so many ways.

    Hi Tatyana, I will have to see about the Linden honey. There are some things you just wonder why it isn't available in the US. I love elderberry juice...

    Hi Susie, Littleleaf Linden Littleleaf Linden Littleleaf Linden. :-)

  10. This tree doesn't do much for me---but now the Golden Rain Tree is a different thing. I love that tree.

    You commented about the color, Smoke, on my blog. It's by Sherwin Williams. Isn't that the color in your living room? or similar? I figured you'd like it. I even thought of you when I posted that kitchen picture.

  11. Hi Anna, well then stay tuned for next week's tree! The Smoke color looks close to mine. Will have to check out Sherwin Williams. I do like it. Thanks for thinking of me!

  12. Honey on a linden tree? Never heard of it! It's a nicely shaped tree and the leaves are HUGE.

  13. Lovely tree. Flowers on a leafy tract is a little bit unusual... how interesting! ~bangchik

  14. I enjoy linden trees, whether they're our native basswood or one of the European species, like T. cordata. I love the bracts around the flowers and fruits!


  15. This is interesting, Janet, because at Spring Fling in Chicago I met a blogger who is a graduate student studying American Basswood trees. I didn't want to appear a dolt, but I finally asked her,"just what is a basswood tree?" Then she told me that it was also known as a linden and pointed out several basswood trees during our visits to different gardens. Apparently, it's quite common in Illinois, but I'd never noticed it before!

  16. Hi Miss Daisy, yes, the Basswood leaves are huge. I guess any plant that attracts bees would be a honey flavor.

    Hi DP, it is an impressive photo with that big leaf.

    Hi Lisa, both Lindens are interesting. I too like the bracts with the flowers/fruits.

    Hi Rose, Isn't that funny? Sometimes plants that you never heard of are right under your nose! I am finding that more and more often.

  17. Hi Bangchik, sorry I missed your comment while going down the list, the bracts are one of the first things I noticed about this tree. Really interesting shape.

  18. I love Basswoods in spring -- do those big leaves hold up during the summer?

  19. Hi sweetbay, these big leaves seem to keep their nice shape without tears or rips through the summer (at least here!)

  20. I guess I will need to be counting some ridges if I really need to know. American of Littleleaf, I never would planted it, but the tree will stay until a higher power takes it out.

  21. Hi Les, yes, counting the ridges would be the answer....if you could reach them. Do any fall that you can collect them from the ground?

  22. Janet, Up here in Toronto (USDA Zone 5/Cdn Zone 6), the buds of the Tilia cordata can be reddish, too -- would never have described them as brown. The leaves are clearly smaller, though, and the native Tilia americana or basswood can grow to be a much more substantial size than the LLL. The overall profile of the basswood tree is, like the leaf, sort of like the suit of spades in cards.

  23. The first time I saw a Linden was in a place called Cache Creek here in British Columbia. we had stopped for ice cream on one of the hottest days of the year at one of the hottest places in the country. We were waiting for my nephew to finish his and took a walk and smelled a wonderful scent and finally realized it was coming from a very ordinary looking tree....with an extraordinarily wonderful fragrance.


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