|YOUNG LINDEN TREE...|
|AMERICAN LINDEN (BASSWOOD) IN FLOWER...|
|...HEART SHAPED LEAVES|
The American linden, AKA basswood, Tilia americana, in the Linden Family, is a large climax forest tree that grows in association with sugar maples, red oaks and ironwood in the eastern half of the North American continent. There are several additional native North American lindens, which are closely related to it and which are considered varieties by some and separate species by others; for our purposes we will consider them all the same species. There are other non-native Tilia species that are used at times in urban forestry, but most, except for T. cordata, the European linden, are not hardy north and would not be of much importance to this discussion. The German word for linden is the same as the American name, and in Britain the linden is called the "lime."
Being a climax forest tree, T. americana is shade tolerant and prefers a rich soil with moderate moisture requirements, but will grow in full sun and is tolerant of other soil conditions. It makes a good street tree except for the hard pea-sized winged fruits that follow the fragrant yellow flowers. Bees love the flowers and basswood honey is excellent. In dense shade the heart-shaped, toothed leaves can grow very large.
The European linden, T. cordata, is quite similar but smaller in stature and with smaller leaves. It is also a good street tree and much used as such. It is the famous street tree of Berlin, and the tree of the medieval German love song/poem, Unter den Linden.
UNTER DEN LINDEN
Walther von der Vogelweide
Modern English translation by Raymond Oliver
- 1. Under the lime tree
- On the heather,
- Where we had shared a place of rest,
- Still you may find there,
- Lovely together,
- Flowers crushed and grass down-pressed.
- Beside the forest in the vale,
- Sweetly sang the nightingale.
- 2. I came to meet him
- At the green:
- There was my truelove come before.
- Such was I greeted —
- Heaven's Queen! —
- That I am glad for evermore.
- Had he kisses? A thousand some:
- See how red my mouth's become.
- 3. There he had fashioned
- For luxury
- A bed from every kind of flower.
- It sets to laughing
- Whoever comes upon that bower;
- By the roses well one may,
- Mark the spot my head once lay.
- 4. If any knew
- He lay with me
- (May God forbid!), for shame I'd die.
- What did he do?
- May none but he
- Ever be sure of that — and I,
- And one extremely tiny bird,
- Who will, I think, not say a word.