Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Saturday, September 18, 2010

For your consideration


Now that we are at the end of summer, and entering the fall tree-planting season, I want to present a tree for your consideration. Before I do that, I want to 'fess up to a deficit in my botanical knowledge, and that is trees. I do not know much about many trees, though I recently realized that the ones I do know about are ones that have conspicuous or very fragrant flowers (magnolia, flowering dogwood, red bud, tulip tree, crape myrtle). I discovered the linden several years ago in new Jersey. I was going for a walk and there was this lovely fragrance wafting down the street (as opposed to some ideas we might have about New Jersey aromas, but I shouldn't diss my home state with a cheap joke). I finally realized it was coming from this great tree, which I later discovered was a linden.

Linden is one of three names for the tree genus Tilia (commonly known as lime and basswood). Several of the common names for species within the Tilia genus have linden in their names. They include: American linden, a common name for Tilia americana, little-leaf linden, a common name for T. cordata and silver linden, a common name for T. tomentosa.

The linden is a lovely tree. It is a great landscaping tree, or specimen tree, forms a pleasing shape and is highly attractive to pollinators (bees and butterflies)(remember, we need to help our pollinators as much as we can, for, without them, we would have precious little food to eat!). And then there is the scent- very intoxicating, like a cross between honeysuckle or magnolia, and the fragrance fills the air around the tree when in bloom. It is a great shade tree and the T. americana, native to North America, can grow pretty tall, 60 to 100 feet. Japanese beetles and some caterpillars will attack it, but I have never seen this to be much of a problem in Virginia (you might want to check with your ag extension agent on this). The flowers were traditionally used in cough syrups (though I am NOT recommending this, just passing on the info) and are considered edible when young.

So, consider the linden!

Happy gardening!

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