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 Tilia subsp. var.  Basswood, Linden
Tilia insularis 1.jpg
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Features: deciduous
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Malvaceae > Tilia var. ,

Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees, native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in Asia (where the greatest species diversity is found), Europe and eastern North America; it is not native to western North America. Under the Cronquist classification system, this genus was placed in the family Tiliaceae, but genetic research by the APG has resulted in the incorporation of this family into the Malvaceae. They are generally called lime in Britain and linden or basswood in North America.

Tilia species are large deciduous trees, reaching typically 20 to 40 m tall, with oblique-cordate leaves 6 to 20 cm across, and are found through the north temperate regions. The exact number of species is subject to considerable uncertainty, as many or most of the species will hybridise readily, both in the wild and in cultivation.

The Tilia's sturdy trunk stands like a pillar and the branches divide and subdivide into numerous ramifications on which the twigs are fine and thick. In summer these are profusely clothed with large leaves and the result is a dense head of abundant foliage.[1]


The leaves of all the Tilias are heart-shaped and most are asymmetrical, and the tiny fruit, looking like peas, always hang attached to a curious, ribbon-like, greenish yellow bract, whose use seems to be to launch the ripened seed-clusters just a little beyond the parent tree. The flowers of the European and American Tilias are similar, except that the American bears a petal-like scale among its stamens and the European varieties are destitute of these appendages. All of the Tilias may be propagated by cuttings and grafting as well as by seed. They grow rapidly in a rich soil, but are subject to the attacks of many insect enemies.[1]

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Tilia (the classical Latin name). Tiliaceae. Linden. Lime. Basswood. Whitewood. Ornamental trees, grown for their handsome foliage, good habit, and also for their fragrant flowers.

Deciduous: winter buds large, obtuse, with several imbricate scales, terminal bud wanting: lvs. alternate, petioled, usually cordate, serrate, with caducous stipules: fls. small, in long-peduncled drooping cymes; the peduncle for about half its length adnate to a membranous ligulate bract; sepals 5; petals 5, often with 5 opposite petaloid staminodes; stamens many, with the filaments forked at the apex; ovary superior, 5- celled; style slender, with 5-lobed stigma: fr. globose or ovoid, nut-like, usually with 1-3 seeds.—About 25 species throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, in N. Amer. south to the highlands of Mex., except W. N. Amer., and in Asia south to Cent. China. The names of the lindens, and particularly of those in cult., have been much confused, owing to the great variability of some species, the rather slight differences between many of the species and to the presence of many hybrids originated spontaneously and in cult. The light-colored soft and light wood is easily worked and much used for the interior finish of houses, for wood-carving, wooden baskets and other small wooden ware. The tough inner bark is used as a tying material and, particularly in Russia, in the manufacture of mats, cords, shoes, and other articles. The fls. yield large quantities of nectar and afford an excellent bee pasture, except T. tomentosa and T. petiolaris, which are poisonous to bees.

The lindens are very desirable trees of comparatively rapid growth and regular pyramidal habit while young, with slender-stalked medium-sized or rather large leaves and with small yellowish fragrant flowers in drooping clusters followed by small inconspicuous nutlets. The species in cultivation are nearly all hardy North and not particular as to the soil, but do not thrive well in dry locations or in dry climates. They are much planted as shade and ornamental trees and, particularly in Europe, are favorite avenue and street trees. The best for avenue planting are T. tomentosa, T. euchlora, T. americana, T. cordata; T. tomentosa stands heat and drought better than any of the others, while T. platyphyllos, although often planted for its rapid growth, is likely to suffer in dry seasons or in dry localities.

Propagation is by seed which must be sown soon after ripening or stratified, as it does not germinate until the second year if kept dry and sown in spring. Also increased by layers; in layering usually the method of "stooling" is employed; this consists of cutting a younger tree close to the ground and of laying down and covering partly with earth the numerous shoots which will appear. Varieties or rarer species are often grafted in spring or budded in August on common stock. Plants raised from layers or grafts remain often one-sided for many years, as the lateral branches usually employed for propagation have the tendency to grow horizontally instead of strictly upright.

T. caucasica, Rupr.-T. rubra.—T. corinthiaca, Bosc -T. rubra, DC.—T. Henryana, Szyszyl. Tree, to 50 ft.: branchlets pubescent at first: lvs. broadly ovate, obliquely cordate or truncate, with bristly teeth, brownish tomentose beneath, with axillary tufts of hairs, 2-5 in. long: fls. 20 or more in a cyme. Cent. China.—T. intonsa, Wilson (T. tonsura, Veitch). Tree, to 60 ft.: young branchlets pubescent: lvs. broadly ovate, cuspidate, serrate, pubescent and grayish green beneath, 3-6 in. long: fls. 1-3: fr. ovoid, 5-angled. W. China.—T. kiusiana, Makino & Shiras. Tree, to 50 ft.: lvs. oblong-ovate, acute, obliquely truncate at base, serrate, glabrous, 1 1/2 - 2 in. long; petiole about 1/3 in. long: cyme 20-35-fld.: fr. globose. Japan. Very distinct on account of the small and narrow, short-stalked lvs.—T. orbicularis, Jouin. Very similar to T. petiolaris, but lustrous and glabrous above, grayish tomentose beneath, on shorter petioles. Supposed to be a hybrid between T. petiolaris and T. euchlora, but probably only a variety of the former; originated in the nursery of Simon-Louis near Metz, Germany.—T. paucicostata, Maxim. Small tree; allied to T. cordata: lvs. ovate, usually truncate at base, with long-pointed teeth, green on both sides, about 2 1/2 in. long. W. China.—T. pubescens, Ait. Tree, to 40 ft.: branchlets rusty stellate-pubescent: lvs. ovate, obliquely truncate at the base, coarsely serrate, rusty tomentulose beneath: fr. rusty tomentose. N. C. to Fla. and Texas. Tender and rarely cult.; the plant cult. under this name is usually T. No. 8.—T. rubra, DC. (T. caucasica, Rupr. T. corinthiaca, Bose). Tall tree with red glabrous branchlets: lvs. similar to those of T. platyphyllos, but glabrous, lustrous above, light green beneath, with long-pointed teeth: cymes 3-7-fld.: fr. ovoid or subglobose, slightly angled. S. E. Eu., Caucasus, W. Asia. Apparently not in cult., often confused with red-branched, slightly pubescent forms of T. platyphyllos.—T. Spaethii - T. americana x T. cordata.—T. tonsura, Veitch -T. intonsa.— T. Tuan, Szyszyl. Tree, to 50 ft.: young branchlets glabrous or nearly so: lvs. broadly ovate, truncate or slightly cordate at the base, minutely toothed, entire below the middle, grayish tomentose beneath with axillary tufts, 2 1/2 – 5 1/2 in. long: cymes 10-20-fld.: fr. subglobose, thick-shelled. Cent. China.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


The following list comprises those most widely accepted as species and cultivars.

Hybrids and cultivars

  • Tilia × euchlora (T. dasystyla × T. cordata)
  • Tilia × europaea Common Lime (T. cordata × T. platyphyllos; syn. T. × vulgaris)
  • Tilia × petiolaris (T. tomentosa × T. ?)
  • Tilia 'Flavescens' Glenleven Linden (T. americana × T. cordata)
  • Tilia 'Moltkei' (hybrid, unknown origin)
  • Tilia 'Orbicularis' (hybrid, unknown origin)
  • Tilia 'Spectabilis' (hybrid, unknown origin)



  1. 1.0 1.1 Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 24–31. 

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