Tilia is a genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of about 30 species of trees native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

. The greatest species diversity is found in Asia, and the genus also occurs in Europe and eastern North America, but not western North America. Under the Cronquist classification system
Cronquist system
The Cronquist system is a taxonomic classification system of flowering plants. It was developed by Arthur Cronquist in his texts An Integrated System of Classification of Flowering Plants and The Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants .Cronquist's system places flowering plants into two...

, this genus was placed in the family Tiliaceae
Tiliaceae is a botanical name for a family of flowering plants. Such a family is not part of APG II, but it is found all through the botanical literature and remains prominently listed by nomenclatural databases such as IPNI....

, but genetic research by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG)
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group
The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, or APG, refers to an informal international group of systematic botanists who came together to try to establish a consensus on the taxonomy of flowering plants that would reflect new knowledge about plant relationships discovered through phylogenetic studies., three...

 has resulted in the incorporation of this family into the Malvaceae
Malvaceae, or the mallow family, is a family of flowering plants containing over 200 genera with close to 2,300 species. Judd & al. Well known members of this family include okra, jute and cacao...

. They are generally called lime in Britain and linden or basswood in North America.

Tilia species are large deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

 trees, reaching typically 20 to 40 m (65.6 to 131.2 ft) tall, with oblique-cordate leaves 6 to 20 cm (2.4 to 7.9 in) across. 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.


Lime is an altered form of Middle English lind, in the 16th century also line, from Old English feminine lind or linde, Proto-Germanic *lendā, cognate to Latin lentus "flexible" and Sanskrit latā "liana
A liana is any of various long-stemmed, woody vines that are rooted in the soil at ground level and use trees, as well as other means of vertical support, to climb up to the canopy to get access to well-lit areas of the forest. Lianas are especially characteristic of tropical moist deciduous...

". Within Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

, English lithe, German lind "lenient, yielding" are from the same root.

Linden was originally the adjective, "made from lime-wood" (equivalent to "wooden"), from the late 16th century "linden" was also used as a noun, probably influenced by translations of German romance, as an adoption of Linden, the plural of German Linde.
Neither the name nor the tree is related to the citrus fruit called "lime
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

" (Citrus aurantifolia, family Rutaceae
Rutaceae, commonly known as the rue or citrus family, is a family of flowering plants, usually placed in the order Sapindales.Species of the family generally have flowers that divide into four or five parts, usually with strong scents...

). Another common name used in North America is basswood, derived from bast, the name for the inner bark (see Uses, below). In the US, the name "lime" is used only for the citrus tree. Teil
Teil tree
The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of teil as Latin tilia and Old French til. In Modern French it is tilleul. The French and Latin word cognates appeared amongst the English literate classes starting in the 14th century. Most names of trees, however, kept their Germanic origins,...

 is an old name for the lime tree.

Latin tilia is cognate to Greek πτελέᾱ, ptelea, "elm tree", τιλίαι, tiliai, "black poplar
Black Poplar
Populus nigra, the black poplar, is a species of cottonwood poplar, the type species of section Aigeiros of the genus Populus, native to Europe, southwest and central Asia, and northwest Africa....

" (Hes.
Hesychius of Alexandria
Hesychius of Alexandria , a grammarian who flourished probably in the 5th century CE, compiled the richest lexicon of unusual and obscure Greek words that has survived...

), ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 word *ptel-ei̯ā with a meaning of "broad" (feminine); perhaps "broad-leaved" or similar.


The Tilia 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.

The leaves of all the Tilia species are heart-shaped and most are asymmetrical, and the tiny fruit, looking like pea
A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

s, 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 Tilia species are similar, except that the American bears a petal-like scale among its stamens and the European varieties are devoid of these appendages. All of the Tilia species may be propagated by cuttings and grafting as well as by seed. They grow rapidly in a rich soil, but are subject to the attack of many insects.

In particular aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are themselves often "farmed" by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid "farming" process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.


In Europe, Tilia trees are known to have reached ages measured in centuries, if not longer. A coppice of T. cordata in Westonbirt Arboretum
Westonbirt Arboretum
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission. Westonbirt Arboretum is located near the historic market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England, and is perhaps the most important and widely known arboretum in the United Kingdom.Planted in the heyday of Victorian plant...

 in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

, for example, is estimated to be 2,000 years old.http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-73egts In the courtyard of the Imperial Castle at Nuremberg is a Tilia which tradition says was planted by the Empress Cunigunde, the wife of Henry II of Germany. This would make the tree about nine hundred years old in 1900 when it was described. It looks ancient and infirm, but in 1900 was sending forth a few leaves on its two or three remaining branches and was, of course, cared for tenderly. The Tilia of Neuenstadt am Kocher in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, was computed to be one thousand years old when it fell. The Alte Linde tree of Naters, Switzerland, is mentioned in a document in 1357 and described by the writer at that time as already "magnam" (huge). A plaque at its foot mentions that in 1155 a Tilia tree was already on this spot.
  • The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains
    Hyblaean Mountains
    The Hyblaean Mountains are a mountain range in south-eastern Sicily, Italy. They are included in the provinces of Ragusa, Syracuse and Catania, and reaches the highest altitude with Monte Lauro, at 986 m.-Geology:...

     was due to the Tilia trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.
  • The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a Tilia tree.
  • Tilia fossils have been found in the Tertiary formations
    The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

     of Grinnell Land
    Grinnell Land
    Grinnell Land is the central section of Ellesmere Island in the northernmost part of Nunavut territory in Canada. It was named for Henry Grinnell, a shipping magnate from New York, who in the 1850s helped finance two expeditions to search for Franklin's lost expedition.The name was given by...

    , Canada, at 82° north latitude, and in Spitsbergen
    Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Constituting the western-most bulk of the archipelago, it borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea...

    , Norway. Sapporta believed that he found there the common ancestor of the Tilia species of Europe and America.


The Tilia is recommended as an ornamental tree when a mass of foliage or a deep shade is desired. The tree produces fragrant and nectar-producing flowers, the medicinal herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

 lime blossom. They are very important honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

 plants for beekeepers
Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive , to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers...

, producing a very pale but richly flavoured monofloral honey
Monofloral honey
Monofloral honey is a type of honey which has a high value in the marketplace because it has a distinctive flavor or other attribute due to its being predominantly from the nectar of one plant species....

. The flowers are also used for herbal tea and tinctures; this kind of use is particularly popular in Europe and also used in North American herbal medicine practices.


The timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 of Tilia trees is soft and easily worked; it has very little grain
Wood grain
In speaking of wood the term grain refers to the alternating regions of relatively darker and lighter wood resulting from the differing growth parameters occurring in different seasons . The term is used in several ways. Perhaps most important is that in woodworking techniques...

 and a density of 560 kg per cubic metre. During the Viking Era, it was often used for constructing shields. It is a popular wood for model building and intricate carving. Especially in Germany, it was the classic wood for sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 from the Middle Ages onwards and is the material for the elaborate altarpiece
An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two,...

s of Veit Stoss
Veit Stoss
Veit Stoss was a leading Bavarian sculptor, mostly in wood, whose career covered the transition between the late Gothic and the Northern Renaissance. His style emphasized pathos and emotion, helped by his virtuoso carving of billowing drapery; it has been called "late Gothic Baroque"...

, Tilman Riemenschneider
Tilman Riemenschneider
Tilman Riemenschneider was a German sculptor and woodcarver active in Würzburg from 1483. He was one of the most prolific and versatile sculptors of the transition period between late Gothic and Renaissance, a master in stone and limewood.- Biography :Tilman Riemenschneider was born between 1459...

, and many others. Ease of working and good acoustic
Musical acoustics
Musical acoustics or music acoustics is the branch of acoustics concerned with researching and describing the physics of music – how sounds employed as music work...

 properties also make it popular for electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

 and bass
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

 bodies and wind instrument
Wind instrument
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator , in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of...

s such as recorders. In the past, it was typically used (along with Agathis
The genus Agathis, commonly known as kauri or dammar, is a relatively small genus of 21 species of evergreen tree. The genus is part of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers, a group once widespread during the Jurassic period, but now largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere except for...

) for less-expensive models. However, due to its better resonance at mid and high frequency, and better sustain than alder, it is now more commonly in use with the "superstrat" type of guitar. It can also be used for the neck because of its excellent material integrity when bent and ability to produce consistent tone without any dead spots, according to Parker Guitars
Parker Guitars
Parker Guitars is an American manufacturer of electric guitars and basses, started by luthier Ken Parker in the early 90s. Parker is most famous for making the Parker Fly....

. In the percussion industry, Tilia is sometimes used as a material for drum shells, both to enhance their sound and their aesthetics.

Tilia wood is known in the aquarium industry for its use as an an air diffuser inside of protein skimmer
Protein skimmer
A protein skimmer or foam fractionator is a device used mostly in saltwater aquaria to remove organic compounds from the water before they break down into nitrogenous waste...

s. Air pumped through the grain of the wood turns into consistently very fine bubbles (0.5-1.0mm) difficult to achieve with any other natural or man-made medium. However, the wood decomposes underwater much faster than ceramic air stones and must be replaced more frequently for maximum efficiency.

It is also the wood of choice for the window-blinds and shutters industries. Real wood blinds are often made from this lightweight but strong and stable wood, which is well suited to natural and stained finishes.


It is known in the trade as basswood, particularly in North America. This name originates from the inner fibrous bark of the tree, known as bast. A very strong fibre is obtained from this, by peeling off the bark and soaking in water for a month, after which the inner fibres can be easily separated. Bast obtained from the inside of the bark of the Tilia tree has been used by the Ainu people
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

 of Japan to weave their traditional clothing, the attus. Similar fibres are obtained from other plants are also called bast, named after those from the Tilia: see Bast fibre
Bast fibre
Bast fibre or skin fibre is plant fibre collected from the phloem or bast surrounding the stem of certain, mainly dicotyledonous, plants. They support the conductive cells of the phloem and provide strength to the stem...



T. cordata is the preferred species for medical use, having a high concentration of active compounds. It is said to be a nervine, used by herbalists in treating restlessness, hysteria, and headaches. Usually, the double-flowered Tilia species are used to make perfumes. The leaf buds and young leaves are also edible raw. Tilia species are used as food plants by the larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of some Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 species; see List of Lepidoptera that feed on Tilia.

Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata
Tilia cordata
Tilia cordata is a species of Tilia native to much of Europe and western Asia, north to southern Great Britain , central Scandinavia, east to central Russia, and south to central Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Caucasus; in the south of its range it is restricted to...

, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

s), volatile oils, and mucilaginous constituents (which soothe and reduce inflammation). The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

Tilia flowers are used medicinally for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The flowers were added to baths to quell hysteria, and steeped as a tea to relieve anxiety-related indigestion, irregular heartbeat, and vomiting. The leaves are used to promote sweating to reduce fevers. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

Benzodiazepine like molecules have also been found in
aqueous herbal extracts from medicinal South American/
Caribbean plants which has led to speculations that
some natural BZDs may participate in sedative effects of
certain traditional tea preparations, e. g., from Tilia spp.


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


  • Tilia americana
    Tilia americana
    Tilia americana is a species of Tilia native to eastern North America, from southeast Manitoba east to New Brunswick, southwest to northeast Texas, and southeast to South Carolina, and west along the Niobrara River to Cherry County, Nebraska...

     L. – Basswood, American Linden
  • Tilia amurensis  – Amur Lime, Amur Linden
  • Tilia argentea  – Silver Lime
  • Tilia caroliniana  – Carolina Basswood
  • Tilia chinensis
  • Tilia chingiana
    Tilia chingiana
    Tilia chingiana Hu & W.C.Cheng is a medium-sized tree native to the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang in China. It is a deciduous tree growing to 15 m tall, its bark grey and smooth. The cordate leaves are offset at the base, 5 - 10 cm long, and borne on 2.5 - 4 cm petioles...

     Hu & W.C.Cheng
    Wan Chun Cheng
    Professor Wan Chun Cheng was one of the most eminent Chinese botanists of the 20th century. Initially one of the Chinese plant collectors who followed in the wake of the Europeans after 1920, he became one of the world's leading authorities on the taxonomy of gymnosperms...

  • Tilia cordata
    Tilia cordata
    Tilia cordata is a species of Tilia native to much of Europe and western Asia, north to southern Great Britain , central Scandinavia, east to central Russia, and south to central Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Caucasus; in the south of its range it is restricted to...

    Philip Miller
    Philip Miller FRS was a Scottish botanist.Miller was chief gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden from 1722 until he was pressured to retire shortly before his death...

    – Small-leaved Lime, Little-leaf Linden or Greenspire Linden
  • Tilia dasystyla
    Tilia dasystyla
    Tilia dasystyla is a deciduous lime tree species. It contains following subspecies:*T. dasystyla subsp. caucasica - northern Iran, northern and western Turkey, Caucasus and Crimea*T. dasystyla subsp...

  • Tilia euchlora  – Caucasian Lime
  • Tilia henryana
    Tilia henryana
    Tilia henryana Szyszyl., commonly known as Henry's Lime, was introduced to the West from China by Ernest Wilson in 1901. The tree is native to the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, and Zhejiang in China ....

    Ignaz von Szyszylowicz
    Ignacy Szyszyłowicz also known as Ignaz von Szyszyłowicz was a Polish botanist born in Granica. He contributed Part III.6 Caryocaraceae, Marcgraviaceae, Theaceae, Strasburgeriaceae to Engler & Prantl's Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien , .-References:...

    – Henry's Lime, Henry's Linden
  • Tilia heterophylla
    Tilia heterophylla
    Tilia heterophylla , is a species of Tilia native to mesic forests in eastern North America from central New York south to northernmost Florida and west to Missouri; it is most common in the Appalachian Mountains....

    Étienne Pierre Ventenat
    Étienne Pierre Ventenat was a French botanist born in Limoges. He was the brother of naturalist Louis Ventenat ....

    – White Basswood
  • Tilia hupehensis  – Hubei Lime
  • Tilia insularis
  • Tilia intonsa
  • Tilia japonica  – Japanese Lime, Shina (When used as a laminate)
  • Tilia johnsoni
    Tilia johnsoni
    Tilia johnsoni is an extinct species of linden tree that was native to Washington state, USA and British Columbia, Canada. This species lived around 49 million years ago during the Early Eocene. The species was named in honor of Dr. Kirk R. Johnson, paleobotanist who assisted with collecting from...

    Jack A. Wolfe
    Jack Albert Wolfe was an American paleontologist best known for his studies of Tertiary climate in western North America through analysis of fossil angiosperm leaves.-External links:...

     & Wehr
    Eocene; Washington and British Columbia
  • Tilia kiusiana
  • Tilia mandshurica  – Manchurian Lime
  • Tilia maximowicziana
  • Tilia mexicana (T. americana var. mexicana)
  • Tilia miqueliana
  • Tilia mongolica  – Mongolian Lime, Mongolian Linden
  • Tilia nasczokinii
    Tilia nasczokinii
    Tilia nasczokinii Stepanov, commonly known as Nasczokin's Lime or Nasczokin's Linden, is a rare deciduous tree or shrub native to Siberia in Russia....

     – Nasczokin's Lime, Nasczokin's Linden
  • Tilia nobilis
  • Tilia occidentalis  – West lime
  • Tilia oliveri  – Oliver's Lime
  • Tilia paucicostata
  • Tilia platyphyllos
    Tilia platyphyllos
    Tilia platyphyllos is a deciduous tree native to much of Europe, including locally in southwestern Great Britain, growing on lime-rich soils. The common name Large-leaved Linden is in standard use throughout the English-speaking world except in Britain, where it has largely been replaced by the...

    Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
    Giovanni Antonio Scopoli was an Italian physician and naturalist.-Biography:...

    – Large-leaved Lime
  • Tilia rubra  – Red Stem Lime (syn. T. platyphyllos var. rubra)
  • Tilia tomentosa
    Tilia tomentosa
    Tilia tomentosa is a species of Tilia native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Hungary and the Balkans east to western Turkey, occurring at moderate altitudes....

    Conrad Moench
    Conrad Moench was a German botanist, sometimes written Konrad Mönch, was Professor of Botany at the Marburg University from 1786 until his death....

    – Silver Lime, Silver Linden
  • Tilia tuan

Hybrids and cultivars

  • Tilia × euchlora (T. dasystyla × T. cordata)
  • Tilia × europaea
    Tilia × europaea
    Tilia × europaea L., generally known as the Common Lime, is a naturally occurring hybrid between Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos...

     – 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)

Slavic mythology

In old Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology is the mythological aspect of the polytheistic religion that was practised by the Slavs before Christianisation.The religion possesses many common traits with other religions descended from the Proto-Indo-European religion....

, the Tilia (lipa, as called in all Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

) was considered a sacred tree. Particularly in Poland, many villages have a name "Święta Lipka" (or similar), which literally means "Holy Lime". To this day, the Tilia tree is a national emblem
National emblem
A national emblem symbolically represents a nation. Most national emblems originate in the natural world, such as animals or birds, but another object may serve. National emblems may appear on many things such as the national flag, coat of arms, or other patriotic materials...

 of Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, and the Sorbs
Sorbs are a Western Slavic people of Central Europe living predominantly in Lusatia, a region on the territory of Germany and Poland. In Germany they live in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony. They speak the Sorbian languages - closely related to Polish and Czech - officially recognized and...

. Lipa gave name to the traditional Slavic name for the month of June (Croatian
Croatian months
The Croatian months used with the Gregorian calendar by Croats differ from the original Latin month names:Some names are derived from archaic Croatian-Slavic words that are no longer found in standard Croatian dictionaries...

, lipanj) or July (Polish
Polish months
The Polish language is one of the Slavic languages that do not use Latin-derived month names .-See also:* Belarusian months* Bulgarian months* Croatian months* Czech months* Macedonian months* Slovenian months* Ukrainian months...

, lipiec). It is also the root for the German city of Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, taken from the Sorbian name lipsk. The Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

n currency, kuna
Croatian kuna
The kuna is the currency of Croatia since 1994 . It is subdivided into 100 lipa. The kuna is issued by the Croatian National Bank and the coins are minted by the Croatian Monetary Institute....

, consists of 100 lipa, also meaning Tilia; "lipa" was also a proposed name for Slovenian currency in 1990, however the name "tolar
Slovenian tolar
The tolar was the currency of Slovenia from 1991 until the introduction of the euro on 1 January 2007. It was subdivided into 100 stotins...

" ultimately prevailed. In the Slavic Orthodox Christian world, limewood was the preferred wood for panel icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 painting. The icons by the hand of Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev is considered to be the greatest medieval Russian painter of Orthodox icons and frescoes.-Biography:...

, including the Holy Trinity
Holy Trinity Icon
The Holy Trinity is an important subject of iconographic representation in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and has a rather different treatment from depictions in the Western Churches...

 (Hospitality of Abraham), and The Savior
Christ the Redeemer (icon)
Christ the Redeemer is an icon discovered by accident in a dilapidated woodshed near Zvenigorod in 1919. With several other icons stored nearby, it was attributed as the work of great Andrei Rublev, painted for one of Zvenigorod cathedrals in the 1420s. It is exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery of...

, now in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, are painted on Tilia wood. Tilia wood was chosen for its ability to be sanded very smooth and for its resistance to warping once seasoned.

The tree also has cultural and spiritual significance in Hungary, where it is called hárs (fa).

Germanic mythology

The Tilia was also a highly symbolic and hallowed tree to the Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 in their native pre-Christian
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

 Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology is a comprehensive term for myths associated with historical Germanic paganism, including Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, Continental Germanic mythology, and other versions of the mythologies of the Germanic peoples...


Originally, local communities assembled not only to celebrate and dance under a Tilia tree, but to hold their judicial thing
Thing (assembly)
A thing was the governing assembly in Germanic and introduced into some Celtic societies, made up of the free people of the community and presided by lawspeakers, meeting in a place called a thingstead...

 meetings there in order to restore justice and peace. It was believed that the tree would help unearth the truth. Thus the tree became associated with jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

 even after Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

, such as in the case of the Gerichtslinde
In the Holy Roman Empire, a was a linden tree where assemblies and judicial courts were held...

, and verdicts in rural Germany were frequently returned sub tilia (under the Tilia) until the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...


In the Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

, a medieval German work ultimately based on oral tradition recounting events amongst the Germanic tribes in the 5th and 6th centuries, Siegfried
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

 gains his invulnerability by bathing in the blood of a dragon. While he did so, a single Tilia leaf sticks to him, leaving a spot on his body untouched by the blood and he thus has a single point of vulnerability.

The most notable street in Berlin, Germany is called Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is a boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is named for its linden trees that line the grassed pedestrian mall between two carriageways....

 or Under the Tilias, named after the Tilia trees lining the avenue
Avenue (landscape)
__notoc__In landscaping, an avenue or allée is traditionally a straight route with a line of trees or large shrubs running along each, which is used, as its French source venir indicates, to emphasize the "coming to," or arrival at a landscape or architectural feature...

/boulevard. In German folklore, the Tilia tree is the "tree of lovers."

Greek mythology

In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

, Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

, Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, and Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 mention the Tilia tree and its virtues. As Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 tells the old story of Baucis and Philemon
Baucis and Philemon
In Ovid's moralizing fable , which stands on the periphery of Greek mythology and Roman mythology, Baucis and Philemon were an old married couple in the region of Tyana, which Ovid places in Phrygia, and the only ones in their town to welcome disguised gods Zeus and Hermes , thus embodying the...

, she was changed into a Tilia and he into an oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 when the time came for them both to die.

Herodotus says:

Romantic symbol

A mediaeval love poem by Walther von der Vogelweide
Walther von der Vogelweide
Walther von der Vogelweide is the most celebrated of the Middle High German lyric poets.-Life history:For all his fame, Walther's name is not found in contemporary records, with the exception of a solitary mention in the travelling accounts of Bishop Wolfger of Erla of the Passau diocese:...

 (c. 1170–c. 1230) starts with a reference to the Tilia tree:
Under der linden

an der heide,

dâ unser zweier bette was,

dâ mugt ir vinden

schône beide

gebrochen bluomen unde gras.

vor dem wald in einem tal,


schône sanc diu nahtegal.
Under the Tilia tree

on the open field,

where we two had our bed,

you still can see

lovely both

broken flowers and grass.

On the edge of the woods in a vale,


sweetly sang the nightingale
The Nightingale , also known as Rufous and Common Nightingale, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae...


Tilia trees play a significant motif in a number of poems written by Romanian
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 poet Mihai Eminescu
Mihai Eminescu
Mihai Eminescu was a Romantic poet, novelist and journalist, often regarded as the most famous and influential Romanian poet. Eminescu was an active member of the Junimea literary society and he worked as an editor for the newspaper Timpul , the official newspaper of the Conservative Party...

. An excerpt from his poem Mai am un singur dor (One Wish Alone Have I):
Pătrunză talanga While softly rings
Al serii rece vânt, The evening's cool wind
Deasupră-mi teiul sfânt Above me the holy Tilia
Să-şi scuture creanga. Shakes its branch.
— translation: M.G.Jiva

In 1979, Tilia trees were featured in the song Gelato al Cioccolato
Gelato al cioccolato
-Track listing:Aide A# "Forse" # "Atomino" # "Gabriella" # "Io solo senza te" # "Ti ricordi" Side B# "Gelato al cioccolato" # "Cercami ancora"...

 on the album of the same name by Italian singer-songwriter Enzo Ghinazzi
Enzo Ghinazzi
Enzo Ghinazzi , best known as Pupo is an Italian singer and lyricist.-Biography:Enzo Ghinazzi was born in Ponticino, in the province of Arezzo....

, also known as Pupo.

In 2003, Tilia trees were featured in the popular song "Dragostea Din Tei
Dragostea din Tei
"Dragostea din tei" , also informally known as "The Numa Numa Song" , is the most successful single by the Moldovan pop group O-Zone, sung in Romanian. It shot to the number one spot on the Eurochart Hot 100, where it remained for 12 weeks between June and early September 2004...

" ("Love from Tilia Trees") by the Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

n band O-Zone
O-Zone was a Romania/Moldovan pop music trio that was active from 1998 to 2005 and consisted of Dan Bălan, Radu Sîrbu, and Arsenie Todiraş. The group gained global popularity with their song "Dragostea din tei" and their subsequent album DiscO-Zone....


Literary references

  • A play called "The Linden Tree" (1947) was written by Bradford-born English novelist, playwright and broadcaster J.B. Priestley.
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

     features Tilia trees as an important symbol in his poem "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison" (written 1797; first published 1800).
  • The short poems (Fraszki) of Polish poet Jan Kochanowski
    Jan Kochanowski
    Jan Kochanowski was a Polish Renaissance poet who established poetic patterns that would become integral to Polish literary language.He is commonly regarded as the greatest Polish poet before Adam Mickiewicz, and the greatest Slavic poet, prior to the 19th century.-Life:Kochanowski was born at...

     commonly feature Tilia trees, especially "Na Lipę" (To The Tilia Tree), published in 1584. Kochanowski was heavily influenced by the Czarnolas
    Czarnolas is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Policzna, within Zwoleń County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It lies approximately north-east of Zwoleń and south-east of Warsaw....

    , or the Polish Black Forest, where the dominant tree species is Tilia.
  • The Tilia tree is featured as a symbol of supernatural dread in Hannah Crafts' The Bondwoman's Narrative
    The Bondwoman's Narrative
    The Bondwoman's Narrative is a 2002 bestselling novel set in the mid-nineteenth century by Hannah Crafts, a self-proclaimed runaway slave from North Carolina. The published novel has a preface by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a literary professor at Harvard University, describing the history of its...

  • A road lined with Tilia trees is cursed by the narrator of the censored poem, "Ich was ein chint so wolgetan" (I was such a lovely child), from the Carmina Burana
    Carmina Burana
    Carmina Burana , Latin for "Songs from Beuern" , is the name given to a manuscript of 254 poems and dramatic texts mostly from the 11th or 12th century, although some are from the 13th century. The pieces were written principally in Medieval Latin; a few in Middle High German, and some with traces...

  • A poem from Wilhelm Müller
    Wilhelm Müller
    Wilhelm Müller was a German lyric poet.-Life:Wilhelm Müller was born at Dessau, the son of a tailor. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native town and at the university of Berlin, where he devoted himself to philological and historical studies...

    's Winterreise
    Winterreise is a song cycle for voice and piano by Franz Schubert , a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. It is the second of Schubert's two great song cycles on Müller's poems, the earlier being Die schöne Müllerin...

     cycle of poems is called "Der Lindenbaum" (The Linden Tree). The cycle was later set to music by Franz Schubert
    Franz Schubert
    Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

  • Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther
    The Sorrows of Young Werther
    The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787...

     features a Tilia tree throughout the novel, and the protagonist, Werther, is buried under the tree after his suicide.
  • Tilia trees are featured in Tolstoy's War and Peace
    War and Peace
    War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature...

  • In Swann's Way, the first book of Proust's In Search of Lost Time
    In Search of Lost Time
    In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past is a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. His most prominent work, it is popularly known for its considerable length and the notion of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the "episode of the madeleine." The novel is widely...

    , the narrator dips a petite madeleine into a cup of Tilia blossom tea. The aroma and taste of cake and tea triggers his first conscious involuntary memory.
  • The band Bright Eyes has a song called "Lime Tree" on the album Cassadaga
    Cassadaga (album)
    Cassadaga is the seventh studio album by Bright Eyes, released on April 10, 2007. Around 25 to 30 songs were recorded in 2006, with 13 of these appearing on the final track list...

    : "Under the eaves of that old Lime Tree I stood examining the fruit."
  • Prominently featured throughout Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk
    Orhan Pamuk
    Ferit Orhan Pamuk , generally known simply as Orhan Pamuk, is a Turkish novelist. He is also the Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches comparative literature and writing....

    's The Museum of Innocence.
  • Tilia trees are a recurring theme in Romanian author Mihai Eminescu
    Mihai Eminescu
    Mihai Eminescu was a Romantic poet, novelist and journalist, often regarded as the most famous and influential Romanian poet. Eminescu was an active member of the Junimea literary society and he worked as an editor for the newspaper Timpul , the official newspaper of the Conservative Party...

    's poems. Upon his wish he was interred under one's shade.
  • A Tilia tree is prominent in the setting of Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull (Act II).
  • The song "Dragostea din tei
    Dragostea din tei
    "Dragostea din tei" , also informally known as "The Numa Numa Song" , is the most successful single by the Moldovan pop group O-Zone, sung in Romanian. It shot to the number one spot on the Eurochart Hot 100, where it remained for 12 weeks between June and early September 2004...

    " by Moldovan band O-zone
    O-Zone was a Romania/Moldovan pop music trio that was active from 1998 to 2005 and consisted of Dan Bălan, Radu Sîrbu, and Arsenie Todiraş. The group gained global popularity with their song "Dragostea din tei" and their subsequent album DiscO-Zone....

     features several references to linden trees.
  • A short story written by Herman Hesse, "The Three Linden Trees"
  • A song written by Joan Baez, "For Sasha", mentions the linden tree; from the album Honest Lullaby
  • A poem from Thomas Pynchon
    Thomas Pynchon
    Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American novelist. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon received the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature...

    's Gravity's Rainbow
    Gravity's Rainbow
    Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest...

    , sung by the German witch Geli Tripping, mentions a linden tree:

"Though it’s another year,
Though it’s another me,
Under the rose is a drying tear,
Under my linden tree…
Love never goes away,
Not if it’s really true,
It can return by night, by day,
Tender and green and new
As the leaves from a linden tree, love,
That I left with you."

See also

  • International World War Peace Tree
    International World War Peace Tree
    The International World War Peace Tree is a linden tree on the southwestern edge of Darmstadt, Indiana serving as a reminder of Germany's armistice with the United States.-Description:...

    , a Tilia tree that stands as a sign of Germany's alliance with the United States
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