Linden Tree Symbolism and Meanings

 8 min read

The linden tree, also known as the basswood or lime tree, is not related to the citrus fruit. It is a rare balance of masculine and feminine energies which makes her one of the wisest trees and because of this energy combination, she has the potential to live for thousands of years.

Liden tree symbolism has a lot of meanings in many cultures.

In Christianity, it represents mercy and victory in legal battles, with branches symbolically used to crown victorious kings and emperors.

The Celtic believed that linden trees brought luck, while in Germany they were associated with healing and peace. In many traditions, the linden was also seen as a symbol of love, sleep, dreams, freedom, immortality, and protection.

Traditional folklore recommends hanging dried branches or bark over the door for protection from harm. With its strong symbolic importance, it is not surprising that the linden tree is sacred to multiple deities across multiple cultures – Freya and Frigga in Norse mythology, the Virgin Mary in Christianity, Jesus as a representation of his cross made from linden wood, Thor as a symbol of strength and protection, and Phylira as the goddess of marriage among others.

Overall, the message embodied by this majestic tree is to never give up on your dreams – both literally through its symbolic association with sleep and dreams, but also figuratively through its symbolism of victory and persistence.

Symbolism:Healing and peace
Divine Associations:Phylira (ancient Greek), Freya, Frigga (both Germanic)
Astrological Associations:Venus and Jupiter
Historical Spotlight:The linden tree became a symbol of freedom in France and Switzerland during the Middle Ages. The French planted many lindens to commemorate the end of the Wars of Religion, marked by the Edict of Nantes (1598) in which Henri IV granted French protestants religious freedom.

About Liden Trees

Liden Tree
Liden Tree

The Tilia genus contains around 40 species of large deciduous trees that are native to the Northern hemisphere. They are also known by their Anglo-Saxon name, linden, and popularly called “lime” trees.

The European lime tree (T. cordata) grows to 100ft (30m) and has deeply fissured bark. The leaves are heart-shaped, often broader than long (2½in/6cm), with sharply serrate edges. In July the fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers appear in numerous clusters of five to seven blooms each. The small round fruits may be ribbed or smooth.

The large-leaved European lime tree grows to be 130ft (40m) tall. The roundish-ovate leaves are approximately 5in (12.5cm), regularly serrate, and downy beneath the veins. The cymes have three or four to six flowers in total; the round or pear-shaped fruits contain five ribs each.

The common lime tree (T. europaea) is a hybrid of the two species of trees mentioned above. It is a vigorous and long-lived tree with heart-shaped leaves, and it can be easily recognized by the multiple suckers that grow around its base. All European species of this tree drop sticky “honeydew” in late summer, which comes from small insects called aphids.

The American lime tree, also known as the basswood, can grow up to 130 feet tall. Its heart-shaped leaves are 4 to 8 inches long.

Practical Uses

Linden trees, also known as “bee trees”, are popular with farmers because they can be pruned every five to eight years to provide leaf fodder for cows. Though linden leaves are not as tasty as ash leaves, they are easier to chew and digest. Both types of leaves are rich in fatty acids and increase the fat content in milk, which thus yields more butter.

The tradition of using leafy greens as food dates back to the Neolithic period (4300 BCE). Spring leaves and shoots from the linden tree can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.

In addition to being a sturdy and highly versatile tree, the linden also has an inner bark with fibres that were used by both Native North Americans and Europeans to make ropes, strings, fishing nets and other items up until hemp replaced them. Hemp was introduced in China around 2500 BCE before arriving in central Europe around 400 CE. Hemp cultivation began among Anglo-Saxons in Britain between 800-1000 CE.

Today the Linden is commonly found as a park or avenue tree all over Europe and North America.

Natural Healing

Linden flower tea has a long history of medicinal use in Europe as it is an excellent soothing agent and heart tonic. Since it also reduces cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, linden makes for a great daily drink.

Additionally, this beneficial beverage can be given to children (sweetened with honey) before bedtime to help them fall asleep peacefully.

Hot tea can help relieve diarrhea and clear up congested sinus conditions. Externally, flower tea can soothe inflammatory skin problems. (In German, the word for “to soothe” is closely related to the name of the tree.)

Folklore, Myth and Symbol of Liden Trees

Simple alternate, deciduous, ovate to heart-shaped, 2–4 inches long, dark green and shiny above, paler below, sharp-toothed margin with pointed tips
Simple alternate, deciduous, ovate to heart-shaped, 2–4 inches long, dark green and shiny above, paler below, sharp-toothed margin with pointed tips

The prevalence of European place names and family names derived from the word “lime” (such as Lincolnshire in England and Leipzig in Germany) reveals how integral this tree once was.

The Dorflinde, or “village linden”, was a vital part of village life in Germany during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was not only where people would meet to socialize or take a break from work, but it also served as the central point for village celebrations like May Day. The linden tree was also significant because it housed the local court of law. In other words, if you had something to resolve with someone in your village, this is where you came to settle things.

This long-standing tradition can be traced back to before the time of Christianity when people would gather beneath special trees for tribal celebrations. It’s interesting to note that these ancestors held their conversations and meted out justice under a “female” linden tree—symbolic of mercy—rather than a male oak tree, which was considered the domain of Donar (Thor), the Germanic god of thunder. For ancient Germanic and Norse cultures, the linden tree was holy to Freya, goddess of Earth, as well as Frigga, who presided over childbirth and fertility.

For many centuries, the Baltic peoples considered linden trees sacred. Even now, in Christian Bulgaria, you’ll find Mary shrines beneath these special trees.

In Greek mythology, Phylira–the daughter of the sea god Oceanus–conceives Chiron (the learned satyr who is half man, half horse) with Chronos (the deity of the planet Saturn). She is then metamorphosed into the linden tree. Later on, Chiron taught Asclepius (the first physician) his secret knowledge about nature’s healing powers; making him the father of medicine. Consequently, this makes the “grandmother” of medicine request the linden: The “soothing tree”. Furthermore, as love is known to be the true healer; it might not be a coincidence that Phylira’s name derives from Greek philein–meaning “to love”.

The story of Asclepius learning secrets from a serpent in ancient Greece is commemorated by the Staff of Asclepius- an old symbol with a snake winding around a staff. To this day, it is the emblem of medicine. In Norse mythology, the guardian of eternal life is often depicted as a dragon. When hero Sigurd slays this dragon, he becomes invincible after bathing in its blood.

A linden tree leaf falls and lodges between Sigurd’s shoulder blades as he tries to bathe in Fafnir’s blood. This creates a weak spot which brings about his eventual death. In this myth, the dragon is representative of the Earth’s life force.

Linden Tree Symbolism and Meanings

Green nut-like fruits with 1–3 seeds, turning yellow or white when mature, hanging in clusters from a leaf-like wing and covered with very tiny hairs
Green nut-like fruits with 1–3 seeds, turning yellow or white when mature, hanging in clusters from a leaf-like wing and covered with very tiny hairs

Heart Healing

The linden’s broad, heart-shaped leaves and abundant shade offer immense power in soothing grief and broken hearts. By shifting and healing old pain at the vibrational level, this tree can help attract new love into your life.

Additionally, large numbers of bees are attracted to its flowers which produce honey. Therefore, the linden is associated with sweetness, love, and divine healing.

Stress Relief

The linden tree is a powerful stress reliever, with its combination of masculine and feminine energy. Its name comes from a root meaning “flexible” and “yielding.”

The linden can help us to surrender and move with the flow of things, rather than fight against the present moment.


The linden tree has, since ancient times, been known for its alignment with the Divine Feminine. It has been used in magic to invoke the protection of various goddesses, such as Freya and Frigga in Germany, or Mother Mary in Bulgaria.


Why are linden trees called lime trees?

The name “lime tree” can be somewhat confusing, as it is not the same type of fruit tree that produces the citric fruit we commonly refer to as limes.

The naming stems from an old English word, “lind,” used to describe these types of trees. Eventually, the pronunciation and spelling shifted to “lime,” leading to confusion about the citrus fruit.

What is linden scent?

The linden scent is known for its sweet, honey-like aroma with a touch of balsamic undertones. In the perfume industry, it is often used as a middle note to add depth and complexity to floral scents.


The linden tree is a symbol of protection, luck, and healing. It also represents victory in legal battles, immortality, dreams, and freedom.

If you are looking for a tattoo that has deep meaning and symbolism, consider the linden tree.