Meet the Trees: Littleleaf Linden
The Littleleaf Linden, also known as Tilia cordata is a large shade tree native to Europe. These trees were favored by European settlers and American designers who wished to bring a keystone of Europe to the new world. These trees were planted in Parks and in plazas in the United States as they were a hallmark of European public spaces.
Lindens have had a historic presence at Madison Square Park that has declined over the years. Only one of the five specimens that existed in the Park in 1964 are still present today. The last remaining specimen of old Linden is located near the fountain and Shake Shack. You can also find it on our arboretum map as tree 158 as part of Madison Square Parks Tree Conservation Plan. Although these trees are not native to New York, they are part of the historical planting of Madison Square Park and additional specimens of these trees will be planted in upcoming years.
While many non native trees are not visited by pollinators, littleleaf lindens may be one of the exceptions. These trees bear incredibly fragrant, pale yellow flowers in late spring. When trees are in full bloom, bees will often visit in such abundance that humming can be heard from the tree. These fragrant flowers have been used to create an herbal tea that helps relieve anxiety.
Littleleaf lindens make excellent shade trees and it’s a delight to sit under their fragrant flowers in June and July. Summer is the best time to view these trees as late summer drought and insects can sometimes give these trees a tattered look as the summer progresses. The Fall color changes to an uninspiring drab yellow. While these trees might not have year round interest, they will continue to be part of our urban forest for generations to come, reminding us of those New York City’s historical ties to European landscape design.