Herbs & Plants

Tilia spp

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English: Lime Tree (Tilia sps) showing new gro...
English: Lime Tree (Tilia sps) showing new growth produced as a response to severe wind damage in late spring. Spier’s, Beith, Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Botanical Name : Tilia spp
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Tilia
Common Names :  Linden , Lime tree, Basswood

Name :Lime is an altered form of Middle English lind, in the 16th century also line, from Old English feminine lind or linde, Proto-Germanic *lend?, cognate to Latin lentus “flexible” and Sanskrit lat? “liana”. Within Germanic languages, English lithe, German lind “lenient, yielding” are from the same root.

Linden was originally the adjective, “made from lime-wood” (equivalent to “wooden”), from the late 16th century “linden” was also used as a noun, probably influenced by translations of German romance, as an adoption of Linden, the plural of German Linde. Neither the name nor the tree is related to the citrus fruit called “lime” (Citrus aurantifolia, family Rutaceae). Another widely-used common name used in North America is basswood, derived from bast, the name for the inner bark . In the US, the name ‘lime’ is used only for the citrus tree.

Leaf of Tilia X cordata showing veination.Latin tilia is cognate to Greek , ptelea, “elm tree”, tiliai, “black poplar” (Hes.), ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European word  with a meaning of “broad” (feminine); perhaps “broad-leaved” or similar

Habitat : Native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in Asia (where the greatest species diversity is found), Europe and eastern North America; it is not native to western North America.The tree grows very fast in rich soil

Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees, Under the Cronquist classification system, this genus was placed in the family Tiliaceae, but genetic research by the APG has resulted in the incorporation of this family into the Malvaceae. They are generally called lime in Britain and linden or basswood in North America.

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Tilia species are large deciduous trees, reaching typically 20 to 40 metres (70 to 100 ft) tall, with oblique-cordate leaves 6 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) across, and are found through the north temperate regions. The exact number of species is subject to considerable uncertainty, as many or most of the species will hybridise readily, both in the wild and in cultivation.
The Tilia’s sturdy trunk stands like a pillar and the branches divide and subdivide into numerous ramifications on which the twigs are fine and thick. In summer these are profusely clothed with large leaves and the result is a dense head of abundant foliage.

The leaves of all the Tilias are heart-shaped and most are asymmetrical, and the tiny fruit, looking like peas, always hang attached to a curious, ribbon-like, greenish yellow bract, whose use seems to be to launch the ripened seed-clusters just a little beyond the parent tree. The flowers of the European and American Tilias are similar, except that the American bears a petal-like scale among its stamens and the European varieties are devoid of these appendages. All of the Tilias may be propagated by cuttings and grafting as well as by seed. They grow rapidly in a rich soil, but are subject to the attack of many insects.


Madicinal Uses :
Common Uses:
Anxiety/Panic * Colds * Sore Throat/Laryngitis *
Properties: Demulcent* Diaphoretic* Sedative* Nervine*
Parts Used: The flowers, carefully dried in the shade.
Constituents: alpha-pinene,ascorbic-acid,astragalin,beta-amyrin,beta-sitosterol,caffeic-acid,chlorogenic-acid,cysteine ,eugenol,geraniol,hesperidin ,isoquercitrin,limonene,linalyl-acetate,mucilage,nerolidol,p-coumaric-acid,phenylalanine,quercetin, quercitrin ,tannin,terpineol,tocopherol, vanillin .

Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants), volatile oils, and mucilaginous constituents (which soothe and reduce inflammation). The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

Tilia flowers are used medicinally for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The flowers were added to baths to quell hysteria, and steeped as a tea to relieve anxiety-related indigestion, irregular heartbeat, and vomiting. The leaves are used to promote sweating to reduce fevers. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

The fragrant, yellowish flowers of the Linden tree have been used since the Middle Ages to promote perspiration and for nervous conditions. Linden flower tea is better known in Europe than here in North America, though Native Americans used linden for colds, fevers and nervous headaches – much the same purposes as modern herbalists do today. European herbalists recommend linden as a mild tonic for nervousness, insomnia as well as colds and fever. You will find linden often combined with yarrow flowers and sage in cold remedies.

Lime Blossom, or Linden, is well known as a relaxing remedy for use in nervous tension. It has a reputation as a prophylactic against the development of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. It is considered to be a specific in the treatment of raised blood pressure associated with arteriosclerosis and nervous tension. It initially increases peripheral circulation to fingers and toes, helping the evaporation of body heat, and then stabilizes blood vessels and body temperature. Linden is an excellent remedy for stress and panic, and is used specifically to treat nervous palpitations. Its relaxing action combined with a general effect upon the circulatory system give lime blossom a role in the treatment of some forms of migraine. The diaphoresis combined with the relaxation explains its value in feverish colds and flus. The flowers bring relief to colds, and flu by reducing nasal congestion and soothing fever. Because of their emollient quality, linden flowers are used in France to make a lotion for itchy skin. The tea is given to babies for teething.

The sapwood of a linden growing wild in the south of France (T. cordata) is used as a diuretic, choleretic, hypotensive and antispoasmodic. A light infusion of the flowers is sedative, antispasmodic and diaphoretic. It also thins the blood and enhances circulation.

Other Uses:

The Tilia is recommended as an ornamental tree when a mass of foliage or a deep shade is desired. The tree produces fragrant and nectar-producing flowers, the medicinal herb lime blossom. They are very important honey plants for beekeepers, producing a very pale but richly flavoured monofloral honey. The flowers are also used for herbal tea, and this infusion is particularly popular in Europe.

T. cordata is the preferred species for medical use, having a high concentration of active compounds. It is said to be a nervine, used by herbalists in treating restlessness, hysteria, and headaches. Usually, the double-flowered Tilias are used to make perfumes. The leaf buds and young leaves are also edible raw. Tilia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species; see List of Lepidoptera that feed on Tilia.

The timber of Tilia trees is soft, easily worked, and has very little grain, and a density of 560 kg per cubic metre. It is a popular wood for model building and intricate carving. Especially in Germany, it was the classic wood for sculpture from the Middle Ages onwards, and is the material for the elaborate altarpieces of Veit Stoss, Tilman Riemenschneider and many others. Ease of working and good acoustic properties also make it popular for electric guitar and bass bodies and wind instruments such as recorders. In the past, it was typically used (along with Agathis) for less-expensive models. However, due to its better resonance at mid and high frequency, and better sustain than alder, it is now more commonly in use with the “superstrat” type of guitar. It can also be used for the neck because of its excellent material integrity when bent and ability to produce consistent tone without any dead spots according to Parker Guitars. In the percussion industry, Tilia is sometimes used as a material for drum shells, both to enhance their sound and their aesthetics. It is also the wood of choice for the window-blinds and shutters industries. Real wood blinds are often made from this lightweight but strong and stable wood which is well suited to natural and stained finishes.

Limewood Saint George by Tilman Riemenschneider, c. 1490.It is known in the trade as basswood, particularly in North America. This name originates from the inner fibrous bark of the tree, known as bast. A very strong fibre is obtained from this, by peeling off the bark and soaking in water for a month; after which the inner fibres can be easily separated. Bast obtained from the inside of the bark of the Tilia tree has been used by the Ainu people of Japan to weave their traditional clothing, the attus. Similar fibres are obtained from other plants are also called bast, named after those from the Tilia: see Bast fibre.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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