Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 1011 Tilia cordata

Common Names: littleleaf linden, small leaved lime Family: Tiliaceae (linden Family)
Image Gallery

littleleaf linden 'Chancelor' flowers
These are blossoms of 'Chancelor'. They're beautiful to view and make a soothing tea too!


Littleleaf linden is a deciduous shade tree from Europe. The tree can get up to 90 ft (27 m) tall with a 50 ft (15 m) spread, but is usually smaller. The leaves are heart shaped with fine teeth on the margins, about 3 in (7.5 cm) long and almost as wide. They are alternate with rather long, slender petioles (leaf stems). Littleleaf linden blooms with fragrant pale yellow flowers in midsummer. The flowers, each about .75 in (2 cm) across, are clustered in hanging cymes, 2-3 in (5-8 cm) across. Many selections have been named, including narrowly upright forms, pyramidal forms, and some with parallel spreading branches. Hybrids with other European and Asian species also are available.


Tilia cordata is native to European forests, from northern Spain and England, east through Sweden to western Russia and the southern Caucasus. It has been cultivated as a shade tree for hundreds of years.

littleleaf linden
Littleleaf linden foliage in autumn color.


Light: Littleleaf linden thrives in full sun. Moisture: Tilia cordata likes a moist, but well drained soil. It does not take kindly to drought. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 7. With some afternoon shade, littleleaf linden may survive in zone 8. Propagation: Linden seeds require a period of moist, cold dormancy before they will germinate. Plant seeds outside as soon as they ripen, or stratify for 3-5 months and plant in spring. The cultivars are bud-grafted onto seedling rootstock. It is also possible to divide suckers and to propagate by layering.


An outstanding shade tree, littleleaf linden is one of the best trees for planting in cities and along streets. It tolerates air pollution well and all kinds of soils, from acidic to limey. The trees are long lived and have a graceful form. Lindens tolerate root disturbance better than most trees, and are thus suitable for moving and replanting at a larger size, even as tall as 15 ft (5 m). Bees make a fine honey from the nectar produced by the fragrant flowers. Littleleaf linden responds well to pruning and is sometimes used as a hedge, especially in European gardens.

littleleaf linden 'Chancelor'
There are many varieties of littleleaf linden available in a number of forms. This is 'Chancelor', a very popular small tree with a neat pyramidal shape.


The flowers of the littleleaf linden have a long history of use in treatment of various disorders. Herbal teas and preparations made from the blossoms are used as an antispasmodic to soothe gastric problems, relieve nausea, relieve anxiety and to quell coughs. The flowers contain high concentrations of flavenoids and polyphenols, compounds with antioxident and other properties that provide a range of beneificial actions in the body. Linden flowers are one of the botanicals from which extracts are made that are added to cosmetics and shampoos that soothe skin and bring out lustrous highlights in your hair.

Littleleaf linden is closely related and similar to the American basswood (T. americana), a common forest tree in eastern North America.

Steve Christman 3/8/06

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Tilia species profiled on Floridata:

Tilia americana

( American basswood, American linden, whitewood, beetree linden, white basswood )

Tilia cordata

( littleleaf linden, small leaved lime )

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