fbpx Little-leaved linden | The Morton Arboretum

Little-leaved linden

Leaves of 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):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Ornamental Interest:

  • Summer blossoms,
  • Fall color,
  • Fragrant flowers,
  • Persistent fruit/seeds

Seasons of Interest:

  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • 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 little-leaved linden  (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.

Cornithian® little-leaved linden (Tilia cordata ‘Corzam’):  Narrow-pyramidal shape formed by a straight central trunk and evenly spaced branching.  45 feet high by 15 feet wide.

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

Shamrock® little-leaved linden (Tilia cordata ‘Baileyi’): Similar to 'Greenspire', but with a more open crown. 50 feet high by 30 feet wide.

Summer Sprite® little-leaved linden (Tilia cordata ‘Halka’): Compact cultivar with rounded shape; grows 20 feet high by 15 feet wide.

Location of Tilia cordata (Little-leaved linden) at the Arboretum