It's 6:30 AM. The soft, sweet scent of summer fills my nose as I get out of the car, picking basket & step stool in hand. There is a mere 3-day window for Linden, Tillia sp., blossom harvest once the flowers begin to open and today's temperature will top 100 degrees!
Big-Leaved Linden, Tillia europa, possibly Tillia platyphyllos at a local park
"Unprecedented", they said on the forecast. And, in my 70 years here in western Washington, I have not seen many 100 degree days. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, there have only been 3 days at or over 100 degrees in Seattle up to now! This record will surely fall soon if the108 degree prediction becomes a reality. The already short Linden harvest window will be even shorter in this heat.
Linden is a tree that is found around the globe in the northern hemisphere. An herb with many uses both in situ and as an herbal remedy, this tree has been a personal ally since we first met years ago in Saugerties, New York. Hanging over a large deck, the shade of her cooling branches brought certain relief from the muggy Catskill's mountain heat in the dog days of August.
As an herb, all species of Linden are renowned for their anti-inflammatory, relaxing and moistening properties. I usually find Tillia europa, large-leafed linden and Tillia cordata, little-leafed linden, in my urban foraging. Tillias are often referred to as Lime trees although they are not related to Lime, the citrus fruit.
A popular tree in cities often used in parks and as street trees. The first Linden I met in Saugerties was the North American species Tillia americana, also known as basswood. I have also had the pleasure of meeting Silver Linden, Tillia tomentosum, a smaller tree named for the short white woolly hairs on the underside of the leaves. All lindens can be used for herbal preparations. If you have the good fortune to have lindens growing near you, play with them and see how they are similar and different. Learn more about different Linden species here
The part of the tree used in herbal preparations is the calyx and flower combination. The long samara-like part, in the above photo is the calyx with the actual flowers hanging down from it. The combo is picked together for teas, infusions and tinctures made with Linden. There are uses for the leaves and barks but that will have to wait for another day!
It is hot! Let's cut to the chase and make some linden nourishing infusion. A nourishing herbal infusion of linden is made with the dried flower-calyx combo which are referred to as the "flowers".
Little-Leaved Linden; a forager's basket; linden, roses, lavender tisane
Linden Nourishing Herbal Infusion Recipe
.5 oz dry Linden flowers
1 quart boiling water
Process: A double brew long-infusion
Put linden flowers in a 1 qt canning jar and pour on boiling water. Cap. Steep 4-8 hours. Strain
Return flowers to a saucepan and cover with 1 quart cold water. Bring to a boil, simmer, covered, 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat, keep covered. When cool, knead the flowers to release the demulcent properties then strain. May be added to first brew or used separately.
This is a long-brewed simple infusion, used in the wise woman tradition as part of a rotation of herbal infusions. Linden nourishes and moistens the body.
A Summer Floral Tisane
1/2 part* English lavender flowers (I use Lodden's Blue, a compact dark blue lavender with soft floral aromatics).
2 parts fragrant roses
2 parts fragrant linden flowers
Put fresh flowers in a clear tea pot or quart canning jar, add boiling water, cover, steep 10-15 minutes. This summer tisane (fresh aromatic plants quickly brewed) is beautiful to look at and deliciously refreshing to drink, especially over ice in hot weather. Summer in a cup! Enjoy.
*When using "parts" in an herbal preparation, a scale is used to determine the "part". A scale is a useful tool in any kitchen, and especially one that includes herbs as a mainstay in the daily diet.
This is a useful herb for any home. Use Linden as an herbal ally to chill out, keep your cool, moisten and hydrate your body. Linden trees do the same thing in the landscape! Let me know how your harvest is going this year and how you use Linden in the comments below...