Linden trees – also known as lime (though with no connection to the fruit) or basswood – are found across the Northern Hemisphere. The word linden is from Latin lentus, flexible – in English, lithe, and German lind: lenient, yielding. Linden trees are robust – bending but not breaking – and have been known to stand for 1000 years.
Lime-blossom honey and perfumes are made from the tree’s flowers, and the flowers, wood and leaves have been used to treat anxiety, restlessness, stomach ailments, headache, fever and infections. Linden trees have been referenced frequently in literature, from the madeleine in Swann’s Way – dipped into lime-blossom tea – to Coleridge’s Lime-tree bower and Nick Cave’s Lime-Tree Arbour.
They are considered important in Slavic, Germanic and Greek mythology: in Slavic mythology the linden, ‘lipa’, is a sacred tree; Unter den Linden is the avenue in Berlin that stretches from the Berlin City Palace to the Brandenburg Gate; in German folklore the linden is the tree of lovers, while The Three Linden Trees is a fairytale by Hermann Hesse, inspired by the Greek legend of Damon and Pythias.
(Image: photo by Makayla Ostapa)