Little Leaf Lindens, Tilia cordata, are part of the ancient wildwoods of Europe. They are often called Lime trees there. Their young leaves are delicious, great in salad, and their fruits are used for tea. These trees are abundant in this area, especially on Strachan Street walking West, towards the Bayfront park.
In the Tilia family, our native forest species is the Basswood – a close cousin to the Little Leaf Linden, but much taller and with much larger leaves. The bark on this Little Leaf Linden is an excellent example of classic Tilia-style bark. Do you see the vertical lines? The small, dotted pores? Take some time to touch and get to know Tilia bark. It’s very fibrous and useful for making rope and mats.
Now look up to the close-growing branches. If the lower branches are not pruned (as is the case with this tree), the consistent and close-together branches are the absolute most perfect for climbing. There’s a bunch of Little Leaf Lindens we recommend climbing over at Central park.
Now follow the regular pattern of the branches out towards their distinct zig-zag twigs. Some of the tiny fruit and the little ribbon-leaves to which they’re attached often hang on all winter long, feeding creatures who over-winter here. Tuning your eyes to this distinct twig and fruit pattern will help you to know a Tilia every time.