Linden – Finding calm the natural way
Last month it was Stinging Nettles, this month I want to tell you about another of my favourites – Linden. Linden flowers, also known as Lime and Lime Flowers (although I dont know why since it does not grow limes).
Linden – Tilia cordata – Is a tall, hardy tree, growing between 20 – 40m with dark green, shiny, heart shaped leaves and clusters of small, pale yellow blossoms. A native to Europe it likes moist, well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. The flowers are the only parts used in a herbal sense , being collected when they first open, and have many medicinal and culinary uses. The wood and bark are used in the manufacture of furniture, piano keys and matting and baskets.
Linden flowers are popular throughout Europe, particularly France. In the times of the Romans, linden tress were planted in their squares as they were thought to induce calm. This is actually not all that wrong as the flowers are a soothing herb which eases anxiety and calms the mind. In The British Herb Pharmacopoeia linden is listed as a sedative for treating nervous tension and headaches. There may also be some evidence that it heals migraines by improving blood circulation. German research has found that linden flowers improve iron absorption and as such suggested that anyone with an iron deficiency should drink linden flower tea. In France, linden blossom tea is given to children as an afternoon drink to help settle down hyperactive behaviour. I grew up with linden flower honey, which we were given as children for sore throats.In Germany where a tipple is rather popular – purely for medicinal purposes of course – a digestive is made from linden flower to aid digestion after a meal. Unlike a liqueur, a digestive is not sweet and not always the most tasty. Of course there are ways to turn a digestive into a liqueur and make it much more palatable. Having said that, linden flowers actually lend a pleasant flavour to remedies and are often included in food recipes as well.
You can use linden blossoms to make lemonade, jelly, honey, liqueur, add to fruit salad, flavour custards, make linden fritters…. there are so many ways to use it – only limited by your imagination.