The Linden flower, sometimes known as the Lime Blossom or Basswood, is a fragrant, deciduous member of the Malvaceae family. Linden is both a European and North American deciduous tree that can grow up to 120 feet in height, commonly found on forested mountain slopes and planted as street trees. They have dense, shady canopies and grayish brown bark. The tree bears slightly asymmetrical leaves that are cordate (heart-shaped) with serrated margins, and small flowers bloom during the summer in yellow and brown cymes with winged bracts. Several varieties are used in herbal remedies, the most common being the Common, Large-leaf, and Littleleaf Lindens. Identification of the Linden species can prove a little difficult, as the tree hybridizes easily. The tree can be grown easily from cuttings, but growing Linden from seed only works if the seeds are fresh in the fall, otherwise the tree is notorious for a long, slow, germination, sometimes taking as long as 18 months. The tree grows rapidly in rich soils, but is prone to all types of insects and pests, such as aphids and galls. The trees can reach huge girths and live long lives; some individual Linden trees in Europe are reportedly as old as 2000 years
Linden flowers have a delicate flavor and are known best for their relaxing, calming qualities which help reduce panic and stress. They function as a nervine and anti-spasmodic, useful for treating nervous tension and high blood pressure, and the tension and stress associated with hypertension. The flavonoids found in the flowers also help improve circulation. The relaxing qualities combined with it’s general tonifying effects on the nervous system make it useful in the treatment of some migraines, nervous palpitations, and sinus headaches. In addition, Linden flowers have diaphoretic and diuretic actions that speed the treatment of flus and feverish colds; some studies have shown that children treated with only linden flowers for the flu recover more rapidly and with fewer complications than those treated with antibiotics. As well as being delicious in teas, Linden can be added to baths to promote sweating and cool the head during fevers. It’s a great herb for calming excited and anxious children as well as women experiencing menstrual cramps. It’s also a good herb for toning itchy skin and easing rheumatic muscle aches. The bark has mucilaginous properties, making it useful for treating chapped, irritated, and burned skin. New research also shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective, helping to prevent damage to the liver. The wood is also used in the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders.
Ancient Greek mythology tells how a young nymph, Philyra, was raped by the god Saturn disguised as a horse and then gave birth to the centaur Cheiron. The experience left Philyra so devastated she begged the gods not to leave her on earth among mortals, so in response, the gods transformed her into a linden tree. Traditionally in Europe, the flowers of the Linden tree were used in teas to treat restlessness, hysteria, and headaches. Charcoal produced from the wood of the Linden tree was used traditionally as an external application for wounds such as cellulitis, edemas, and skin ulcers, and internally for halitosis, spasmodic coughs, night sweats, intestinal disorders, and fevers. The soft inner tissue of the tree were used by ancient healers as an antiseptic and to both heal and bind wounds, as well as to treat kidney stones, gout, and coronary diseases. The soft wood is also popular for crafts, used commonly for wind instruments, guitars and basses, sculpture, and piano keys. The inner bark was also processed into a strong fiber, used in Japan by the Ainu people to weave their traditional clothing. Native Americans used the inner bark of the American varietal, Tilia americana, to treat heartburn and lung ailments, however, excessive doses of the flowers from this tree can cause nausea and heart damage. Littleleaf linden leaves, if stale, can cause mild intoxication, and were once commonly smoked with tobacco. The leaves of the Large-leafed linden are a good wildfood source when young. Linden honey is prized for it’s floral flavors and thought to have high nutritional values.
Flavor Profile and Energetics
Cool, Astringent, Sweet, Floral
As an infusion, 1 teaspoon of blossoms per cup of water, infused for 10 minutes and taken three times daily. For diaphoretic affects, increase to 3 tsp per cup of water. As a tincture, 1-2 ml three times a day.
For high blood pressure, combine with mistletoe and hawthorne. For nervous tension, combine with chamomile, lemonbalm, or hops, and for the common cold, combine with elderflower and ginger.
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