There are numerous old linden trees along the street where I live at the time of writing this monograph. When they are flowering you almost get intoxicated by their wonderfully sweet scent. This same sweet scent emerges from the dried blossom which we use medicinally. Maybe that is why having a cup of delicious linden tea in my hands always puts me into a good mood.
The linden tree, Tilia cordata, is special to me. Ancestors on my father’s side chose their surname in honour of this tree, which had a prominent place on their land. We liked to snack on linden leaves early in spring and my grandmother made delicious drinks containing reduced linden juice with cold water.
I do not know about you, but I cannot stay upset with a cup of steaming linden blossom tea right underneath my nose. This makes it easy for me to remember that linden has a calming effect. Like lavender, linden is known for this and for its sleep-inducing ability.
What fewer people know is that the linden tree is an excellent ally to use against respiratory diseases, digestive system disorders, flu and much more.
Our ancestors considered the linden tree to be a magical protector. That is probably why so many people had a linden tree on their land and so many families – especially those of Germanic descent – adopted a surname with Linde or Linden in it. But linden is also useful in love magic and in magic that has to do with mortality.
Linden trees stand on a wide-spreading, heart-shaped root system. They have relatively short but sturdy trunks which are grey and smooth for the first 20 years of their existence and then turn dark brown with longitudinal grooves. The trunks open into, when leafed out, lush and dense crowns which are usually balanced in shape.
The heart-shaped leaves are attached to long twigs, 3 to 8 cm long and have a serrated margin. They are glossy deep green on top, bluish-grey-green on the underside, with reddish-brown domatia in the vein axils. They are pinnate nerved. The young leaves are lighter in colour and edible, but when they get older, they become leathery and tough.
The tree starts blossoming after its twentieth year of life. It has fragrant white flowers with five petals and yellow stamens. These grow in corymb inflorescences with five to ten flowers and wilt quickly. The corymbs grow on a long twig coming from a phyllocladium. This bract eventually comes off when the seeds come down later, looking like little helicopters.
There are many linden species in the northwest of Europe and all of them are edible and useful for the medicinal and magical purposes described in this monograph.
The linden was the tree whose leaf fell between the shoulder blades of Siegfried (of the Nibelungs) as he bathed in the blood of Fafnir, which was supposed to make him invulnerable. As a result, he could still be injured in that spot, which would prove to be disastrous later on.
Be careful not to fall asleep under a linden tree. You might just wake up in Faery.
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