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Littleleaf LindenTilia cordata

  • Littleleaf Linden - Tilia cordata
  • Littleleaf Linden - Tilia cordata
  • Littleleaf Linden - Tilia cordata
  • Littleleaf Linden - Tilia cordata
  • Littleleaf Linden - Tilia cordata
The tree grows in sun or partial shade, will tolerate alkaline soil if it is moist, and it transplants well. It is not particularly tolerant of drought, scorching at the leaf margins in summer drought. But this apparently does little long-term harm. It is more tolerant of heat and compact soil than American Basswood. Many communities plant Linden along the streets due to its rapid growth rate and dense, symmetrical crown but Littleleaf Linden is sensitive to road salt. There are a number of cultivars with a variety of habits.

Hardiness Zones

The littleleaf linden can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–7. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The littleleaf linden grows to a height of 50–60' and a spread of around 40' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The littleleaf linden grows in acidic, alkaline, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils. It prefers moist conditions but does not do well in wet areas. It cannot handle severe drought.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Produces clusters of yellowish flowers that hang down on a long stalk attached to a leaf-like wing. The flowers give off a very noticeable, pleasant fragrance.
  • Blooms in the summer, after most trees have finished.
  • Serves as a great source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators.
  • Features heart-shaped leaves that are lopsided at the base, usually 2–3" long with somewhat saw-toothed margins. Leaf color shifts from light green to glossy dark green to yellow throughout the seasons.
  • Offers great shade due to a dense canopy.
  • Yields nutlike fruit ¼" in diameter.
  • Grows in a pyramidal to oval shape.
  • Should be watered during dry periods, especially when young.
  • Is sensitive to road salt and should not be planted where Japanese beetles are a perennial problem.

Wildlife Value

The flowers of the littleleaf linden attract bees and hummingbirds, and the soft wood often provides nesting sites for cavity-dwelling birds.

History/Lore

There is evidence of the littleleaf linden being planted and used for social purposes as early as 760 A.D. In the Germanic and Norse countries, the tree was known as a favorite of Freya (the goddess of love) and Frigga (the goddess of married love and the hearth). Maidens would “dance wildly” around the village linden, and women hoping for fertility would hug the tree or hang offerings in its branches. In Scandinavia, it was a good tree to avoid after dark because it was thought to be a favorite haunt of elves and fairies.