The Useful Basswood/Linden/Tilia/Lime Tree
The basswood, also known as the linden, tilia or lime tree has a ton of uses, grows widely (in different varieties) throughout North America and Europe and is easy to identify.
I’d been reading about its use by Native Americans to make fiber and cordage/rope: From NativeTech
“Fibers were stripped from the inner bark of the basswood tree. After long pieces of bark were removed from the tree the sections were soaked to facilitate separating the fibers from the inner bark. Basswood fibers could be used immediately for simple lashing, or the fibers could be dried and stored for future use. Other items made from dyed basswood fibers include tumplines or burdenstraps used to carry heavy loads, fine twined storage bags and closely woven mats used to strain maple syrup. Sheets of basswood bark were also used as winter coverings for wigwams. Iroquois found the wood ideal for carving, the grain being soft and light.”
It’s flowers make a pleasant, medicinal herbal tea.
According to Wikipedia:
“Linden flowers are used in colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. The flowers were added to baths to quell hysteria, and steeped as a tea to relieve anxiety-related indigestion, irregular heartbeat, and vomiting. The leaves are used to promote sweating to reduce fevers. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection, such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.”
The basswood/linden’s leaves (especially the young, tender leaves), fruit and seeds are also edible.
In the following video Green Deane gives us the low-down on the linden; how to identify it, some of its uses, how to prepare it (he adds young leaves to a salad) — he also points out other edible plants he comes across growing nearby.
Caleb Musgrave in Ontario, Canada who has Ojibway heritage goes even more deeply into the many qualities and uses of the basswood. He says “Very few people look at these trees and think, ‘Wow, you’re really useful.'”
But of course those people would be wrong.
In this video, he covers more of the edible uses for basswood. He also confirms what Green Deane said about basswood tasting like lettuce — tree lettuce.
HerbMentor talks to Lexi Koch in Washington State about how to grow and harvest linden for herbal use (there doesn’t seem to be much to it).
Here Whitney Gerschke talks about linden (basswood) as a useful herb and shows us how to make linden basil ice tea.