10 Species of Linden Trees for Your Landscape

Green linden tree leaves

borchee / Getty Images

Lindens are deciduous trees categorized within the Tilia genus, which includes about 30 species native to North America, Europe, and Asia. In Europe, they're usually known as "lindens" or "limes," while some North American species are known more commonly as "basswoods." These species hybridize quite easily, so it's sometimes difficult to identify a precise tree species in its native habitat.

Linden trees are medium to large shade trees; they tend to have thick, pillar-like trunks with dark bark that begins smooth but develops furrows as the tree matures. Strong horizontal branches jut out from the trunk, creating a dense pyramidal or rounded growth habit. They have dark-green heart-shaped leaves, which are similar to aspen tree leaves but much larger. The linden tree's flowers, a favorite of bees, make their showing from May to July. Some beekeepers cultivate lindens specifically to boost honey production.

Here are 10 species of linden trees to consider for your landscape.

Gardening Tip

With most genera of plants, species native to a region will be the easiest to grow there. However, with lindens, the native species can be sensitive to urban conditions, especially air pollution. North American gardeners seeking a durable linden to plant in the city are best served by choosing one of the European species or hybrids.

  • 01 of 10

    American Basswood (Tilia americana)

    Honey Bee pollinating and collecting nectar on an American basswood blossom
    Jeremy Christensen / Getty Images

    The most common North American linden, the basswood (Tilla americana) makes a great yard tree for those looking to cultivate shade. This fast grower can sometimes grow as much as 24 inches a year and needs plenty of space to flourish. Known for its soft, lightweight wood, basswood was often used in Native American carvings. The bark was also collected and made into fiber for weaving ropes, baskets, and other objects. This is generally a low-maintenance tree, but, like other native species of linden, it doesn't have great tolerance for pollution and urban conditions.

    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–8
    • Height: 50–80 feet tall
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 02 of 10

    Carolina Basswood (Tilia caroliniana)

    White blooms and green leaves on a Carolina basswood

    Jean-Pol GRANDMOT/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Another favorite of pollinators, the Carolina basswood (also known as the Florida basswood) grows in temperate climates and produces fragrant white flowers that hang in clusters. A gray-barked variety of this linden tree is native to Texas and has been grown and harvested for use in interior woodwork. The fruit is eaten by small mammals, and, as the wood decays, it produces cavities used by nesting birds like wood ducks and woodpeckers.

    • Native Area: Southern North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–9
    • Height: 40–100 feet or more
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 03 of 10

    European Linden (Tilia × europaea)

    Green foliage of the European linden tree
    tanukiphoto / Getty Images

    The European linden (sometimes called a "common linden" or a "common lime") is a hybrid tree created by crossing the large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos) and the little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata). It has a full, rounded growth habit that's less pyramidal than the American linden. This species is often used as a street-side shade tree. However, if it's not properly pruned, it can become an overgrown mass or clump of small trees, rather than an impressive singleton. The European linden has better tolerance for urban conditions than do native lindens.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 50–90 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 04 of 10

    Crimean Linden (Tilia x euchlora)

    Green leaves and white buds on the Crimean linden tree

    Salvor / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

    While botanists are unsure of the parentage of this hybrid, most attribute it to a cross between the Tilia cordata and Tilia dasystyla. The Crimean linden (or "Caucasian lime") has a short lifespan, of about 20 years, however, it's less susceptible to problems caused by aphids. Because of its short lifespan, this is a great linden tree for use in planter boxes or pots, where it makes an impressive statement. It has a rounded pyramidal shape, which often droops slightly with age.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 40–60 feet (much smaller as a container specimen)
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Henry's Lime (Tilia henryana)

    Green leaves and berries of the Henry's lime linden tree
    Brian North / Getty Images

    Augustine Henry, a plantsman from Ireland, first discovered this species of linden tree and is the inspiration for its common name. Henry's lime grows more slowly than other lindens, and it may take 10 years to reach 10 feet in height. This species bears large, sea-green leaves with serrated edges and silvery backsides, and its fragrant flowers form in clusters.

    • Native Area: China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6–8
    • Height: 20–30 feet (occasionally to 50 feet)
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 06 of 10

    Large-Leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos)

    White flowers and green leaves on the larged-leaved lime linden tree
    FLPA/Bob Gibbons / Getty Images

    The leaves on this large-leaved linden can grow up to 5 feet long, giving it its apt name. The tree itself is shaped like a dome, with a moderate growth rate. This species can be confused with the European linden tree grown in parks, however, the European species has a bumpy trunk, whereas the large-leaved linden's trunk is smooth.

    • Native Area: Europe, southwest Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 60–80 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 07 of 10

    Little-Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata)

    Green and yellow autumn leaves on the little-leaf linden tree
    Whiteway / Getty Images

    As you might guess, the little-leaf linden's common name directly correlates to its leaf size, which is much smaller than the leaves of other linden tree species. Its plethora of cultivars includes 'Baileyi,' 'Bicentennial,' 'Burnt Orange,' and 'Greenspire,' all of which are used in backyard landscaping to create large garden hedges. This tree is quite tolerant of heavy pruning and also does well in urban conditions.

    • Native Area: Western Asia, Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 50–70 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 08 of 10

    Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa)

    Green canopy of the silver linden tree
    Agenturfotograf / Getty Images

    As the name suggests, the leaves on this linden tree appear to shimmer due to the little white hairs on their backs that look silver and turn yellow in the fall. This species shines as a street-side city tree and has a sturdy constitution that can handle air pollution. This broadly columnar tree has a rounded crown, making it an excellent shade tree for urban settings.

    • Native Area: Southeast Europe, Asia Minor
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–7
    • Height: 50–70 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    White Basswood (Tilia americana var. heterophylla)

    Green foliage and dark trunks of the white basswood linden tree

    James Steakley / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    At one time, the white basswood was categorized as its own species, Tila heterophylla, but it has since been reclassified as a variation of the American basswood: T. americana var. heerophylla. It's very similar in appearance to the American basswood, except for the hairs on the bottom surfaces of the leaves, which give them a whitish appearance. This linden tree is sometimes confused with silver basswood, but the leaf color is decidedly less silvery and more white. Creamy yellow flowers appear in late spring, hanging in clusters. Though this is a beautiful tree, like other American linden species, the white basswood can be intolerant of urban conditions. In suburban or rural landscapes, however, it can be an excellent choice.

    • Native Area: Eastern United States (especially North Carolina)
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Height: 50–80 feet tall
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • 10 of 10

    Weeping Silver Linden, Pendant Silver Linden (Tilia petiolaris)

    Green foliage of the weeping silver linden, or pendant silver linden

    Jean-Pol GRANDMONT / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The branches of this species, known as the weeping silver linden or the pendant silver linden, droop toward the ground, hence its name. It's moderate in size for a linden, with whitish hairs on the undersides of the leaves that make the tree appear silvery in the wind. This type of linden has an exceptionally dense, low canopy that makes it an excellent landscape shade tree. It's also quite tough, with better tolerance for urban conditions than most native lindens. Some authorities regard this tree as a cultivar of Tilia tomentosa, assigning it the name T. tomentosa 'Petriolaris.'

    • Native Area: Southeast Europe, Asia Minor
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 50–70 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jacquemart, Anne-Laure, Moquet, Laura, Ouvrard, Pierre, et al. Tilia Trees: Toxic or Valuable Resources for PollinatorsApidologie, 49, 538–550, 2018, doi:10.1007/s13592-018-0581-3

  2. Pellegrini, Elisa, Nali, Cristina, Lorenzini, Giacomo. Ecophysiology of Tilia Americana Under Ozone Fumigation. Atmospheric Pollution Research, 4,2,142-146, 2013, doi:10.5094/APR.2013.014

  3. Thurn, Mary, Lamb, Elizabeth, Eshenaur, Brian. Disease And Insect Resistant Ornamental Plants. New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension

  4. Selmi, Wissal, Weber, Christiane, Riviere, Emmanual, Blond, Nadege, Lotfi, Mehdi, Nowak, David. Air Pollution Removal By Trees In Public Green Spaces In Strasbourg City, France. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 17,192-201, 2016, doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2016.04.010