linden

June – Linden flowers all around

The magnificent Linden tree (Tilia sp.),  which can grow up to 40 metres tall and over thousand years old, has played a significant role for humans throughout history. The beauty of it’s even, strong growth habit,  the lush, rich green foliage, and the myriads of dainty, highly aromatic flowers in early summer has spoken to mankind since the beginning. Germanic and Slavic tribes revered these glorious trees as holy places. In antiquity the Linden tree was associated with the goddess Aphrodite,  who symbolizes love and beauty. Germanic tribes worshipped Freya, godess of love and and luck through the Linden tree. With the arrival of Christianity these Freya Linden trees were renamed into Maria Linden. The heart shaped leaves connect Linden with love, and mother’s nurtering. The word ‘lind’ means ‘soothing’ in German, and Linden  trees have many important medicinal properties of gently soothing, balming quality.

Tilia officinalis

Tilia officinalis

Linden trees were planted in village centers to provide shade for communal activities, where information was exchanged, festivities and markets were held, lovers met, and judgments were passed. After wars or periods of plague Peace Linden trees were planted. In Germany alone 850 city names originate from the word ‘ linden’, and more in other European countries. Many family names originate from the word ‘linden‘, including the surname of the botanist Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linne) whose plant science classification system we still use today. In  the Czech lands Linden was celebrated as the national tree, in Croatia the ‘Lipa’ (Linden) coin was part of the Kuna currency system. Linden trees have been celebrated in music, art, fairy tales and poetry of  European countries throughout the ages. Linden tree wood has been a preferred medium for wood sculptures, furniture,  wooden barrels, musical instruments, cooking utensils, cookoo clocks and tools.

Linden flowers ready for collection

Linden flowers ready for collection

During flowering season Linden trees are bee pastures, as these beneficial insects are crazy for Linden’s intensely sweet smelling flowers, dripping with sticky nectar, from which they produce an aromatic honey  that has sedative, soothing and antiseptic qualities.

The flowers, drunk as a pleasant tasting tea, make an important cold and flu remedy. They contain volatile oils, glycosides, flavenoids, saponins, phenolic acids, tannins and mucilage. Linden helps with coughs,  inflamed bronchial tracts and catarrhs of the respiratory tract. It’s diaphoretic action reduces fevers. Linden is antispasmodic,  supports the circulatory system, flushes the body  as a diuretic, and calms an upset stomach. Linden can provide relief for heart palpitations, and high blood pressure.

Linden is a particularly important herb for women. It helps with a stressed central nervous system, anxiety and hypertension. It’s calming properties make Linden a useful herb for PMS and menstrual complaints. Linden tea improves milk production in nursing mothers, and through mothers milk helps a nursing infant with colics, vomiting or constipation.

Linden provides relief for insomnia. Because it increases sweat and urination, it is best to drink Linden tea during dinner, instead of bed time. It is also helpful to take a bath with Linden flowers before going to bed. The tannins in Linden flowers make it a useful skin toner. Linden flowers may also bring relief for Migraines.

Linden flowers from Bulgaria are hand collected in unspoiled natural areas and contain high amounts of medicinal compounds as well as flavor.

Drying linden flowers

Drying linden flowers

Source: copyright courtesy of Green Cottage Creek