Little Leaf Linden Plant Profile

Tilia cordata

Little leaf linden tree

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Heart-shaped leaves of Linden Trees add a romantic whimsy to any garden. Similar to Aspen tree leaves, one side of the heart is often larger than the other side. Clusters of petite fruit produce a drupe. A part of the Tilia genus, all Linden Trees produce intoxicatingly fragrant yellow flowers from May to July, which are beloved by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Many a beekeeper loves to plant lindens on their property.

Looking for a low-maintenance tree that attracts bees in spring and produces lasting golden foliage? Learn how to care for Little Leaf Linden. As the name suggests, the Little Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata) has smaller leaves than others in its genus. Though purely ornamental, they are also known as "small leaved lime trees" in honor of their distinctly lime-yellow blooms, small nutlets upon which are attached three-inch leafy wings. Glossy dark green leaves, each three inches long, have tips, serrate margins, and cordate bases.

As autumn approaches, leaves remain green longer than many other trees, continuing to produce lush shade even in the cooler months. Petite round seeds are produced in autumn along with intense gold-green foliage atop this graceful, pyramidal shaped plant. Seeds last through much of winter. It is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 7. When looking for a tree that will fill out a garden hedge and require absolutely no pruning throughout the seasons, look no further than Little Leaf Linden.

Botanical Name Tilia cordata
Common Name  

Little Leaf Linden, Small-Leaved Lime

Plant Type

Deciduous tree

Mature Size

50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide

Sun Exposure

Full sun to part sun

Soil Type

Well-drained rich soil, adaptable to clay

Soil pH

Acidic, alkaline, neutral

Bloom Type

May through July

Flower Color

Lime-Yellow

Hardiness Zones

4, 5, 6, 7

Native Area

Western Asia and Europe

Heart-shaped leaves of the Little Leaf Linden Tree turn gold in autumn.
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How to Grow Little Leaf Linden

Little Leaf Linden grows 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide. Space accordingly. Plant this linden species for shade, for flowers, and along the street where it is highly tolerant of urban pollution.

Light

Little Leaf Linden thrives in full sun, but it will grow in part shade where it can receive direct sunlight for two to six hours of the day.

Soil

Establish Little Leaf Linden in well-drained rich soil. Mix in organic matter. While it thrives most in moist, fertile loam, it can adapt to many soil conditions including clay. Fertilize in early spring to promote healthy growth and resistance to insects and diseases.

Water

Water this drought-tolerant tree a medium amount.

Pruning

Landscapers are fond of this linden in particular because it requires no pruning and yet can be easily pruned into a hedge or screen. After being properly established, it will grow up to one foot per year.

Planting in Containers

This adaptable linden species is also easy to train for bonsai.

Pests and Diseases to Consider

Fortunately, this low-maintenance tree presents no serious insect or disease problems. Verticillium wilt is infrequent, though when this wilt does happen it can be fatal. Other diseases to keep an eye out for are powdery mildew, leaf spots and blight, canker, as well as Anthracnose (Gnomonia tilia) and Phytophthora spp.

In hot, dry periods spider mites (Tetranychidae family) may appear. Borers, scale, leaf miner, lace bugs, caterpillars, aphids (Aphididae family), gall mites, gyspy moth (Lymantria dispar), horse chestnut scale (Pulvinaria regalis), sawflies (suborder Symphyta), and Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) are other possible pests that may feed on the Little Leaf Linden.

Toxicity

Native to Western Asia and Europe, another common name for the tree is "lipa" which is the Polish translation for "linden." The Little Leaf Linden is the inspiration for many Polish legends and local medicines to relieve cough and heart problems.

Flowers can be eaten raw, or picked and dried for tea. Linden flower tea has been used to treat the common cold, and lends an overall calming effect that can be helpful for sleep. A special blend can be found in specialty Russian stores. From the flowers come linden flower honey, which is quite popular. Small, hard fruits are edible but lack desirable texture and flavor.

Leaves are edible throughout spring, summer and fall, according to EatThePlanet.org. Like lettuce, the leaves have a similar texture and taste and are most tender when young.