Definitions

mucronate

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is in standard use throughout the English-speaking world except in Britain, where it has largely (but not universally) been replaced by the name Large-leaved Lime. It is frequently planted as an ornamental tree in parks, or as a shade tree or a lawn tree. It has been introduced in the US (New England).

It is a narrowly domed tree with a moderate growth rate, and can eventually attain a height of 40 m. The reddish-brown young stems later develop dark gray bark with fine fissures and furrows. The branches spread upwards at wide angles. The twigs are reddish-green and slightly pubescent.

The foliage consists of simple, alternately arranged leaves. As indicated by its common name, this tree has larger leaves than the related Tilia cordata (Small-leaved Linden), 6 to 9 cm (exceptionally 15 cm). They are ovate to cordate, mid to dark green above and below, with white downy hair on the underside, particularly along the veins, tapering into a mucronate tip. The margin is sharply serrate, and the base cordate; the venation is palmate along a midrib. The pubescent petiole is usually 3-4 cm long, but can vary between 1.5-5 cm. The autumn foliage is yellow-green to yellow.

The small, fragrant, yellowish-white flowers are arranged in drooping, cymose clusters in groups of 3 to 4. Their whitish-green, leaf-like bracts have an oblong-obovate shape. The geniculate peduncles are between 1.5-3 cm long. The hermaphroditic flowers have 5 sepals and 5 tepals, numerous stamens, but no staminodes. The superior ovary is 2-10 locular with one smooth style. The flowers are pollinated by bees.

The fruit is a small, round, tomentose, cream-colored nutlet with a diameter of 1 cm or less. It has a woody shell with 3-5 ridges.

There are several cultivars offered commercially in nurseries, including 'Rubra' (red twiiged) and 'Tortuosa' (twisted branches).

Tilia platyphyllos readily hybridises with Tilia cordata, the hybrid being the Common Lime Tilia × europaea (syn. Tilia × vulgaris).

Medicinal Uses

Although Tilia cordata is listed as the preferred medicinal species, T. platyphyllos is also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Linden 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 linden flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants), volatile oils, and mucilaginous constituents (which soothe and reduce inflammation). The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

Linden flowers are used in colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. 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.

References

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