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Littleleaf Linden


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tilia cordata
FAMILY: Tiliaceae

This Tree in Colorado The Genus Tilia includes mostly large trees found in the northern temperate zone, with 4 to 7 native to North America and none native to western U.S. However, American linden and littleleaf linden are planted quite abundantly in cities and towns across Colorado and much of the west. They tolerate urban conditions quite well. Littleleaf linden is a European native similar in appearance to American linden, but with smaller leaves, flowers and fruit. There are a number of cultivated varieties which enhance some of the beauty of this fine tree.

Hardiness Zones 3 to 7.

Growth habit Pyramidal when young; upright-oval to pyramidal-rounded and densely branched in old age.

Foliage Alternate, simple, abruptly acuminate with sharp and fine serrations on margin. They are often as wide as they are long – 11/2″ to 3″ long. Base of leaf is cordate, giving an appearance of a heart.

Flowers Borne in 5 to 7 flowered pendulous cymes, bearing pale greenish-yellow, leaflike bracts. Creamy-white to pale yellow perfect flowers.

Fruit Fruit is a small 1/5 inch nutlet, thin shelled, and without ribs. Color is brown to tan when mature.

Bark Gray-brown, ridged and furrowed on older trunks.

Landscape value Excellent shade tree for a variety of landscapes. Because of its pyramidal shape, it fits into tighter areas. It does not provide an arching effect. There are many cultivars. “Greenspire” is probably the most common. Other cultivars are devoted to the density and growth habit of the crown and their growth rate. It is difficult to tell one cultivar from another.

Best advice This is a very good tree that should be used much more, especially now that a grafted cultivar is available. It is very tolerant of our soils and climate. Prefers partial shade or partial sun to full sun; soil should be moist to wet.

Information sources
Michael Dirr, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (University of Georgia, 1990)
Michael Kuhns, Trees of Utah and the Intermountain West (Utah State University Press, 1998)
North Dakota Tree Information Center