TREES & plants

Little-leaved linden

Little-leaved linden is a great shade tree for lawns or parkway plantings in urban settings due to its ability to withstand polluted environments. It has shiny dark green leaves that turn a clear yellow in fall, and in summer it has dangling, fragrant pale yellow flowers.  This tree is prone to attack by Japanese beetles.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Tilia cordata
All Common Names: 
little-leaved linden, littleleaf linden
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
  • City parkway
  • Wide median
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
  • Parkway/street
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
60-70 feet
Mature Width: 
30-40 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Summer blossoms
  • Fall color
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Persistent fruit/seeds
Season of Interest: 
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • Yellow
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval
  • Pyramidal
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

This species benefits from a mulch layer to maintain a cool root environment.  

Disease, pests, and problems

Aphids and Japanese beetles can be a problem.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of pollution.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray-brown.  It is smooth on young trunks and ages to a ridged and furrowed appearance.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

The simple, alternate leaves are 1 ½ - 3” long and wide; heart-shaped with an uneven base.
Leaves are medium green in summer, changing to clear yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Creamy yellow flowers in hanging clusters (5 to 7 flowers per cluster) in early summer.  Each cluster is accompanied by a long, strap-shaped bract.  Very fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruits are small, slightly hairy, round nutlets, accompanied by a long strap-like bract.

Cultivars and their differences 

Chancellor  (Tilia cordata ‘Chancellor’):  This cultivar is more compact than the species (50 feet tall rather than 70 feet).  The habit is upright in youth and more pyramidal when mature.

Greenspire (Tilia cordata ‘Greenspire’):  This cultivar also grows shorter than the species (50 feet).  The habit is a neat pyramidal shape with a central leader.

Glenleven  (Tilia cordata ‘Glenleven’): This is now classified as Tilia x flavenscens 'Glenleven'.   Faster growing with a straight trunk and more open habit.