American Basswood or Linden (Tilia Americana L.)

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American Basswood or Linden (Tilia Americana L.)

My Romanian mother-in-law loved to look at the basswood trees lining our street. She called them lime trees, which is a common name in Europe for the basswood or linden tree. The smell of the flowers is wonderful in early June when the tree is newly in flower. I’ve actually had a carbonated linden beverage (Linden soda pop?) that I really love, but if you’re going for the herbal benefits, you’ll want to stick to teas and tinctures.

Found: In richly wooded areas.

Identifying: This is a deciduous tree growing from about 60 – 80 feet tall. The leaves are about 10” long and heart-shaped with fine teeth along the edges, and the base of each leaf is uneven. Yellow fragrant flowers growing from a wing-like stalk. The tree blooms from June to August.

Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, buds; inner bark as Native American remedy.

Medicinal Uses: Native Americans once used inner bark as a tea for lung ailments, heartburn, and weak stomach. Also used inner bark as a poultice to draw out boils. Leaf, flower, and/or bud are commonly used as a tea or tincture for nervous headaches, digestion pain, restlessness, fevers, colds, flu, coughs, tension, diarrhea. Sedative effects; antispasmodic. Also great for high blood pressure. Used as a tincture, linden is quite safe for children.

Allergic Reactions and/or Warnings: Frequent drinking of linden flower tea might cause heart damage.

Interesting Notes: There are two other species of linden often sought for medicinal use: Small-leaved and large-leaved European linden. Germany has approved these flowers for cold treatment and cold-related coughs. A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve (published 1931) stated “The leaves exude a saccharine matter having the same composition as the manna of Mount Sinai.” How she knew, I’m not certain, but it sure makes one curious about those leaves!

Note: Always consult a health professional before using any herb or medicinal plant. These posts are not meant to be a medical guide but an overview.

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