By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America
Meet one of my favorite wellness remedies — the flowers and leaves of the lovely linden tree. You may know it by its other names, lime tree or American basswood. It’s an easily identifiable tree with lovely boxy leaves and pretty seed pods. It’s easy to identify when blooming. Just use your ears and nose. A linden tree may be called a “bee tree” for good reason. Walk under it and look up. If it’s covered with flowers it will undoubtedly be covered with busy, buzzy honeybees. I have been obsessed with its clean yet sweet and floral fragrance. A stand of linden in full bloom is the scent of warmed raw floral honey and freshly mown hay.
In European countries it’s commonly referred to as the linden and in America as the basswood. I have found them to be fast growers and very easy to care for. I have come across stands of them when I have been out foraging, but mostly they are cultivated, perhaps planted into beautiful arbors that span grand driveways or tumble over country lanes or gardens.
If you plant a linden (and I think that you should plant two!), be sure to allow space for a large tree. Until a storm took it down, I had a glorious, 100-foot tall tree that provided me with gallons of flowers and leaves every year for teas and tinctures.
I have replanted two beautiful lindens in my front yard and every year for about two weeks in June my front porch smells like a warmed pot of gooey, sweet honey. I know the exact moment that it’s ready for harvest because that’s the moment my seasonal allergies kick up. There’s an enormous amount of pollen found in linden flowers, in fact during blooming season everything nearby seems to be covered with a thin yellow dusting of it. This is why the bees love it. I promise you, this is one tree that is worth the aggravation of a sneeze or two.
It’s incredibly hard to find, but if you can track down a bottle of the essential oil, it’s well worth it. Mix four drops of linden oil into a teaspoon of almond oil and add to a warm (not hot) bath for a soothing experience. (Please remember with any essential oil to use a carrier oil at all times tokeep your skin happy and burn free.)
For me the real strength of the linden was found when I began struggling with the moody, sticky and sweaty symptoms of perimenopause. If you’re anything like I was – sweating, tossing and turning — it was tricky to get a good night’s sleep. A cup of linden tea or a dropper of linden tincture in a cup of warm water with some honey about an hour before bed did wonders.
Linden is used around the world to promote rest and relaxation when the nervous system is taxed. I also infuse the linden flowers with rose petals, tulsi leaves and lavender which are known for calming qualities. I usually make my own tinctures and linden is a very easy plant to infuse.
The Herban Farmgirls “Chill Out” Tea
Making a lovely linden tea is so simple. You may want to add a tablespoon or two of local raw honey and a cream scone with fresh jam. The tea loves to be drunk in the dead of winter, sitting in a soft chair with a warm cozy cat. You will need:
- 2 teaspoons tulsi (holy basil)
- 2 teaspoons linden
- ½ teaspoon lavender- Resist the impulse to use more. It will make the tea taste soapy.
- 2 teaspoons unsprayed rose petals
- honey, to taste
Spoon each dried herb into a large tea ball or tea pot and steep. Add honey to your liking.
Milady’s Linden Tincture
You will need:
- A one-quart mason jar
- 3 cups dried or fresh linden leaves and flowers
- Vodka or brandy (60 proof for dried herbs, 80 proof for fresh herbs)
- Dropper Bottles – You can find these at https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/
To make a simple folk tincture place herbs in the jar and cover with your chosen spirit. Seal the jar tightly, shake and store in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. Shake the jar every couple of days. You’ll know its ready by the lovely strong herbaceous fragrance. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth into another jar. You may need to strain more than once. Then use a funnel to package into dropper bottles. Store these in a cool, dark place and enjoy.
I fill two droppers for one cup of hot water. Then I add honey or maple syrup to sweeten.
For those seeking linden, check out Mountain Rose Herbs.