The Linden Tree, “The Queen of Nectar”
Linden trees are an abundant nectar source for honey bees, hence one of their alternative names is “bee trees.” The small-leaved European lime (Tilia cordata) reaches 100 ft. and has a fissured bark. The leaves are heart shaped, and sharply and finely serrated. In July the fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers are borne in numerous clusters, which have five to seven flowers each. The small round fruits are sometimes ribbed.
Linden has a long history of medicinal use in Europe, most notably for soothing tension and irritability. It is also a heart tonic. The flower tea makes an excellent daily drink as it has a beneficial effect on the blood, helping to reduce cholesterol as well as high blood pressure. It makes a useful drink for children, often sweetened with honey, to calm agitation and promote peaceful sleep. The hot tea soothes diarrhea and clears congested sinus conditions. Externally, the flower tea soothes inflammatory skin problems. In German, the very word “to soothe”, lindern, is closely related to the name of the tree.
The Linden, or Lypa, blossom is considered the prize, or “Queen of Nectar,” producing honey plants in Eastern European countries, although less known here in the US. Chemically, Tilia cordata has some extraordinary characteristics. The chemical constituents include the volatile oil fanesol, flavonoid glycosides such as hesperidin and quercitin, saponins, condensed tannins, mucilage and manganese salts. So far, I have researched that farnesol gives Linden flowers their characteristic smell and is an antibacterial, natural pesticide for mites. This is possibly a solution for the Varroa mite problem and may be a natural alternative to the harsh pesticide suggested for use by the beekeepers’ supply companies. The bioflavonoids hesperidin of lime flowers (aka linden flowers) are known to lower blood pressure in humans and quercitin stabilizes mast cell membranes. There are also phytonicides in the plant which affect immunity.
Linden Hill Farm and Apiary has a limited number of these beautiful saplings for sale to beekeepers in the state of New Jersey. They are a prize of nature and a gift to the bees in July when the honey flow begins to decline.