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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 ubiquitous littleleaf linden is a source of beauty in natural settings as well as parks and streets across America. But this lovely tree isn’t native to the U.S. It was transplanted from Europe, where it has been put to use as a shade tree since ancient times.

Whether as a yard tree or street tree, the littleleaf linden will draw you in with its pleasing shape, dense canopy and super-fragrant flowers.


Hardiness Zones

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

Tree Type

This tree is considered a shade tree, a flowering tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight, blooms in a profusion of spring flowers and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

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 4 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.