Foraging for Linden Flowers (+ Giveaway)

Linden Flower Tea linden flowers

I live smack dab inside an urban forest of linden aka lime (Tilia) and at no time is that more obvious than mid-June-July when the trees are dripping with blooms. Their sticky sweet, floral scent is so strong, my bet is that even if you have never noticed the trees, chances are good that you are familiar with their smell.

Did you know that linden flowers make a sweet and delicious honey-like herbal tisane? The tea, made from dried flowers is popular in Europe, but virtually unheard of here in North America. It has soporific properties, meaning that it makes you sleepy, and is often used as a nighttime drink to calm and relax after a busy day.

linden flowers drying

With linden trees virtually everywhere around me and free for the taking, it seemed a shame not to take advantage and pluck a few for use throughout the year. And so that is why I set out one day a few weeks back to harvest a few from nearby trees that a friend had scoped out with low-lying branches. I brought the fresh blooms home and set aside a few for tincture-making. I laid the rest out in large, flat, open-weave baskets that I use for drying plant matter that isn’t suited to hanging. I have since gone on to harvest two more times: the second because a friend wanted some but didn’t have time to go out and the third because I wanted to try distilling a batch into floral water using my new still. I was able to do this because I noticed that trees in various locations were coming into their peak at different times. Chances are more than good that you will find a tree in your area with blossoms that are ready for picking.

linden flowers

Tips for Harvesting, Drying & Using Linden Flowers

  • Advisory Note: While linden is praised as a gentle, soothing herb, some people are allergic, specifically to its pollen. I’ve found myself with itchy eyes and throat when processing the fresh flowers, but seem to have no trouble drinking the tea. Please use caution if you suffer seasonal allergies.
  • According to the book, “Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies,” linden flowers should be picked when a few of the flowers in a cluster have just opened and the rest remain closed.
  • Choose a dry, sunny morning to harvest, although I have also picked later in the day and it wasn’t the end of the world.
  • Like all herbs, it is best not to harvest for drying shortly after a rainfall, although in the book “Backyard Medicine” the authors suggest soaking the wet flowers in a tincture instead.
  • Harvest and use both the flower and the small leaf that is attached to the cluster. You will notice that this “leaf” is very different from the actual tree leaves, which also happen to be edible, but are quite tasteless. Some people eat them fresh, but I think of them as “desperation food.”
  • Drying: I’ve found that the flowers dry quickly, about a few days to a little over a week. I placed mine in paper bags afterwards to ensure they were bone dry before transferring to glass storage jars.
  • To make linden tea: Steep 1-2 teaspoons or so in 1 cup hot water. Steep longer if you want to reap more of the medicinal qualities from the herb. Add a dollop of honey if you prefer your tea sweetened.
  • Drink the tea hot or cold — its equally delicious either way.
  • Linden Hydrosol: While praised as a soothing spray for the skin, I found that I did not like the smell. The hydrosol I made from freshly picked flowers lacked the sweet fragrance of the tea. So odd! I’d love to hear from anyone who has made linden hydrosol to compare notes as I am truly baffled by this outcome.

Book Giveaway Details

I’ve had the book, Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal on hand for some time now and have found it to be an incredible resource that I have turned back to again and again. One of the things I appreciate most is that in almost all cases it clearly explains when to harvest the plant at its peak and which parts to harvest. Amazingly, many books do not include this information. It’s shocking really given how valuable, if not essential it is when working with a plant for the first time.

I will be choosing 1 winner at random at midnight on July 10, 2013. The winner will be contacted by email.

All you have to do to enter is answer the following:

Are you familiar with linden? Have you harvested it? If yes, please tell us about it. As always, you can just type in “count me in,” and that will count as an entry, too.

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Disclosure: Please note that Amazon links earn me a small commission, which are put towards purchasing books as giveaway prizes. Please see my current Publication Policy for more info.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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119 thoughts on “Foraging for Linden Flowers (+ Giveaway)

  1. Despite my more than one-half-century as an amateur naturalist, I have never smelled a Linden Tree!!
    I thought I recognized one at a nearby park, but not by its fragrance, rather by its leaves as it was out of bloom at the time. I believe I am missing out on something luscious here.
    Count me in!

  2. Hi Gayla, I’ve never harvested linden. I’m not even sure where there are any linden trees near me (in North Carolina). I love the idea of making my own medicines, though, and have done a little of that. Would be so excited to win the book! ~ Daricia

  3. Thanks for the great post! I had no idea these were drinkable and medicinal. I will definitely keep an eye out for them. Count me in!

  4. This story brings back fond memories of visiting a friend in Turkey in 1998. She introduced me to linden tea then. She lived briefly in the DC metro region as Fulbright scholarship student but said tea from our local trees was not flavorful. Once back in Turkey, she used to pick and ship it to me. It was flowery and delicious. I did find a tiny jar of linden tea in the Spanish food aisle of our local grocery. BTW, it is a diuretic.

    • Different species have different tastes. I always cross-reference the actions of herbs against multiple books and none mentioned it as a diuretic, although from what i read it can make you sweat.

  5. I haven’t heard of linden berries at all! I tried looking them up, but it just brings up loganberries. I can find linden flowers though, so I guess using the ripe fruit isn’t very common.
    I have a lot of herbs I am learning to use.

  6. I’m not familiar with linden. I recently picked up Raleigh Briggs’ book, Make Your Place and would love to learn more about herbal remedies.

  7. My daughter, age 3 1/2, asked to “harvest” some Linden flowers last week when they were in peak bloom on our street. Out for our evening walk, we stopped to sniff and admire. She loves picking flowers now (and it’s nice when I can encourage that, as opposed to her ripping off the head of someone’s zinnias before I can redirect her), and I’m hopeful we can forage together and learn more about herbalism together in a few years. We only a pressed a few leaves and flowers in a Richard Scarry book: I did not realize they are edible.

  8. I have a small leaf linden tree growing in my front yard. It’s a beautiful tree and right now it’s covered with blossoms that you can smell from the end of the block. My neighbour grew up in Bulgaria and tells me it’s her favourite tea. We are in the process of harvesting and drying and I’m looking forward to tasting the results.

  9. My only experience with Linden was that it was used as a toner in a skin care line we used in esthetics school.

  10. I am familiar with the trees by sight, but have never known their names until last year! This year I purchased a little baby tree from Richters, and it is doing nicely in a little pot on my back deck. Now that I know what they are, I find it easier to spot them everywhere! In parks, alleyways, other people’s yards, etc. I would love some different ideas on how to benefit from these wonderful plants! Count me in :)

  11. What an interesting post. When I lived in Toronto, I used to love walking through the Linden Tree Allee in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. I’m not sure if they are the same type though…but the pretty little leaves and flowers are unforgettable.

  12. Count me in! I’ve never actually heard if linden trees, not harvested from them, they sounds amazing though. I’ll look to see if they’re in California.

  13. I was so excited to see this post, since just last week I passed under a grove of drooping linden blossoms as the kiddos and I entered the library. Now I’m thinking of taking my clippers with me when go tomorrow! I’m always up for a cup of soporific tea!

    You can count me in for the giveaway, too. Love herbal remedies!

  14. I first experienced Linden trees in Berlin, when I was studying in Germany. I had the pleasure of walking on the street named Unter den Linden (Under the Lindens). It was the year that I also discovered LInden Tee (tea), which I have enjoyed ever since, when I can find it. I didn’t know until reading your post that it was a sleep aide. Count me in on the give-away. Would love to learn more about herbal remedies.

  15. I keep thinking I should go out looking for Linden trees, but I never remember! And so I have yet to find one :(

  16. Hi! I’m from Europe, in my country (Latvia) lindens are very common – in the old days a linden was planted as a strength and protection tree for a newborn girl (oak for boys). Linden blossom tea here is one of the most typical “oh-how-i-long-for-the-summer” type of teas for winter along with mint tea, chamomile, lemon balm tea, raspberry leaf tea. Some of other most common herbal teas that we use are yarrow, calendula, meadowsweet, goatweed, stinging nettles, black currant leaves, rose fruit and many others. Linden blossom tea is great, I would recommend to try it, the only recommendation would be – if possible, try to find a linden tree that is outside of city environment so you get as pure herbal tea as you can.

  17. I planted a linden tree in my yard just so I could smell those wonderful flowers! This is the first year it has bloomed, and I did not know the specifics of harvesting for tea, so your post is very timely!

  18. I learn so much from your blog Gayla. I have a lot of trouble sleeping… hopefully I haven’t missed the blooms – I’d really like to try this. As always, thanks for the how-to!

  19. I have never seen linden growing wild. Does it grow in Kentucky? Anyway, count me in! I love foraging for edible and medicinal plants!

  20. Wish I had known this a few weeks ago! We were on a family walk and the sweetest smelling scent caught us all. We located the source but we couldn’t identify the tree. A quick look up at home and we discovered it was a linden tree! I’ll have to go back and see if its still blooming… I couldn’t get ocpver how strong the scent was! The book sounds like a great one to have on hand.

  21. I’m not sure if linden grows in my area (tx gulf coast); I’ll have to research alternatives. Please count me in.

  22. We drink linden tea all the time! I have also read that it is a good mild tonic for seasonal allergies, as it is slightly drying to nasal passages. Also, it’s delicious. Please count me in, that book sounds great!

  23. I don’t know if there are any linden here in northern BC, but I’ll start keeping an eye out. I’ve heard that in England Lime are a popular urban tree, and that the leaves can be eaten.

  24. The flowers look suspiciously like a plant that gives me headaches from the scent. I’ll have to look into this and find out for sure. If it’s not the headache/allergy plant, I will definitely look into the edible and medicinal uses!

  25. I’m familiar with linden in a strictly academic sense since it’s not native to my area. (Trees here are mostly live oaks or pines) I’d love to grow it but my container garden isn’t exactly tree friendly. Which hasn’t stopped me from trying. I have a dwarf apple, a Meyer lemon and Key lime.

    But yes! Count me in! My current herbal medicine guide is more than slightly outdated. I could use a new one.

  26. I used to live on a street called “Linden Hall Drive,” so I looked up lindens, but I’ve never harvested them. I’ll have to keep an eye out (I don’t live on that street anymore).

  27. I am not familiar with Linden and had never harvested it. I recently moved to Cleveland and pretty sure we have very similar trees as they do in Toronto. Will be looking for it.
    By the way, I lived in Arizona for about 10 years and your lovely desert postings just warm my heart!

  28. love it, my aunt harvests from her tree and send to us, I’ve seen/smelled them around the neighborhood, but reluctant to pluck from parkway trees, heard that it’s associated with the Virgin Mary, maybe for the sweetness factor

  29. Just found you site after Googling ‘preserving linden blossoms. An herbalist friend was very excited to hear that a have 2 lindens in my yard. I wanted to know how I might use them as a gift for her. Please count me in!

  30. Just went for a late night walk to the closest Linden tree to here (in my neighbourhood in Halifax.) It looks like the blooms will open in a few days, maybe sooner if this heat and humidity continue. We have been experiencing some southern Ontario style summer weather here, strange for us. Looking forward to gathering some blossoms when they’re ready, I gather them most years. And I also look forward to smelling them – the smell is especially good on night bike rides on some of the streets in Halifax that have lots of Linden trees. (Please count me in on your contest.)

  31. The linden tree I planted when I had my daughter has just come into bloom. Going to collect the flowers right now and make a syrup :)

  32. I’ve had linden flowers in tea, but picked them fresh. I’ll have to go out and look in Vancouver and see if there are some trees here, which there must be. Thanks for the link to the book!

  33. Blooming linden trees stop me in my tracks when I smell them, but until recently I didn’t know what they were. I had NO IDEA that you could make a tea from the flowers- I always learn something from your website! Going to try and harvest some flowers tomorrow morning.

  34. I’m not sure if Linden’s do well in my zone and area (southeast Missouri zone 6) because I don’t believe I’ve seem them blooming here. Would love the book though!

  35. Count me in, while I don’t have the tree near me it’s always interesting hearing about uses like this, hope to find some someday and put them to use.

  36. Damn girl. Your photos are always magnificent. I wrote a post about linden on my blog last year which includes a recipe for linden cordial (I have this year’s batch steeping in the fridge) – so good. Linden iced tea is great, especially from the fresh flowers. I tend to stick practically everything I collect in vodka because it’s such an easy way to preserve the flavours, and the linden vodka is really nice even without any sweetener. I’m making a bigger batch of it this year.
    Thank you for writing about your adventures!
    PS-I’m in love with your little copper still. :)

    • Thank you! I am loving making hydrosols. I too put everything in vodka and have a tiny batch going. I am regretful that I didn’t do more.

  37. I remember reading about dancing in linden trees. Possibly it was in Ancient trees: trees that live for 1000 years by Anna Lewington and Edward Parker. Magical!

  38. I know of linden trees but had no idea any part of it could be used like this. Count me in on the giveaway!

  39. I am not familiar with Linden, but i am always on the lookout for all things herbal. Seems to be my new obsession! lol I am going to keep my eyes open for Linden Trees in my area for sure. Thanks for the chance to win this interesting book.

  40. Just earlier this week our bee keeping friend shared that linden flower pollen is probably 80% (or more!) of what the bees use to make their honey on his farm. And I’ve loved the smell! After reading this my family and I have harvested and munched the flowers-even better than clover! And today we’re considering a black cap raspberry and linden flower tart. And I’m drying some for the winter :) Lovely!

  41. Hi! I’ve never harvested or noticed linden trees. Not sure there are some in Abitibi but at the same time I never looked. Definitely count me in!

  42. Yes, please count me in!! I have heard of linden flowers, but only upon seeing it in a recipe for homemade beer. I’ve never had the opportunity to touchy-feely any. I would certainly love to. :)

  43. I don’t know anything about Linden flowers, but it sounds wonderful. I’ve been gathering info and planning my almost first Fall garden, and want to scatter small plots and her gardens around my property. Please count me in on the drawing.

  44. I always have linden tea in my out-of-control tea cupboard, but I haven’t yet harvested my own. Hopefully this will be my year!

  45. I’m not really familiar with linden trees, but the blossoms pictured look so familiar that I’m pretty sure I’ve passed a linden tree wondering where the delicious scent in the air was coming from. Linden tea and beer sound intriguing.

  46. I was aware of the uses of linden,but have never tried it. I absolutely love the fragrance of the leaves when they first open. So fresh and appealing! Count me in for the book draw!

  47. There are linden trees that line the parking lot of my local post office. I’ve often wondered if/what power they hold and now I need to harvest some flowers and try out that tea. When they’re in bloom the trees buzz, overflowing with happy bees.

  48. I’ve never seen a linden tree (that I know of), and have never had the tea. HOWEVER, I’m going to look it up, see if it grows comfortably in my area and, maybe, see about getting one in my yard!

    In the meantime, count me in on the giveaway!

  49. I’m doing my research. I know I’ve been around Linden trees and just can’t place them.
    Book sounds wonderful. Count me in.

  50. I just stumbled upon your website today and I would like you to count me in on the contest. Gardening has always been out of my league, but I am determined to make this work by reading, researching and testing methods that work well for my dry humid location. Have not heard of Linden trees, but that tea looks delish!

  51. The only Linden trees I have seen are on Martha Stewart’s property from her blog but I have not seen these trees in person. From pictures that I have seen they are quite lovely! Thank you

  52. I have never seen any linden trees around where I live in Indiana, although I will keep my eyes open after reading this information. Count me in!!!

  53. I’ve never harvested linden although have enjoyed it’s lovely infusion. I am wondering if I can grow it in sunny Florida!
    Count me in please!

  54. Gayla, I have heard of linden, but have not had the blessing of its presence to enjoy. Please count me in! and thank you for the interesting info.

  55. I’ve never heard of linden, but it looks familiar! Count me in – I have recently gotten very interested in herbal remedies!

  56. I’ve seen linden trees, but have never planted one at my home, nor have I processed any part of the tree. But please count me in anyway.

  57. I saw Linden trees on the Toronto Islands a few years back. I love the idea of making a tea from this tree. Thanks :-)

  58. As a kid, I used to gather up linden flowers on my way home. In fall, my brother and I would sweep up the seeds into one tile square of the sidewalk and POP as many of them as we could at once by stomping them. Fun memories!

    Emily

  59. I am not familiar with linden, nor have I harvested it. But would love to read about it in the book!

  60. We just recently moved and our new place is surrounded in Linden trees! I am busy learning the tree ID for our neighbourhood since in the Arctic where I worked there were no trees!

  61. I have happily used Linden as a soothing tea in the past, and am currently riding my bike by the nearby Linden trees daily to keep an eye on their about-to-bloom buds for harvesting :-)

  62. I have recently moved to Germany and have started to make all sorts of things from the plants and trees in the garden – dandelion syrup, elderflower cordial and champagne, red and blackcurrant sorbet and jam – and have just discovered a Linden tree and hope to make tea from it. Please count me in.

  63. Count me in, please! I’m intrigued by your idea for distilling the flowers. Between this and the pinks-infused vodka from earlier in the spring, my herbal liquor cabinet is going to look quite respectable!

  64. Hi Garla,
    I helped plant linden trees at our local school about 10 years ago. I think I’ll take a walk down there today and see if there are some blossoms to harvest!
    Sandra

  65. I am nodont know anything about linden but love making other herbal teas and am always on the look out for new ones. Count me in.

  66. I do not know anything about linden but love making other herbal teas and am always on the look out for new ones. Count me in.

  67. I’m not really familiar with linden – I’m pretty sure it doesn’t grow around here unless it’s been planted. I think I was once given a tea bag that contained it, though.

  68. My plant ghetto once contained a Linden tree but it passed on before I was able to plant it. I’d intended to harvest its flowers. Honest!

    Count me in!

  69. I have never foraged for linden but recently have joined in foraging groups to start to learn to identify plants. I would love to win a copy!

  70. This sounds divine, I love herbal teas. I don’t think Lindens grow in South Houston, I may have to find a connection in Central Texas (I’m also on the lookout for an elderberry flower connection). Count me in!

  71. I’ve never used linden but would be open to trying it. I help direct a community garden, and we’ve been wanting to educate gardeners about medicinal herbs. This book would be a great help!

  72. I’ve never heard of it before. So count me in! I’d love to know more about the wildness around me for health! Thank you. I also love suaro cactus, fascinating that it takes that long before they grow arms! I also knew they only grew in a certain area of AZ?

  73. I’ve heard of linden, but I don’t know anything about it! Not sure when the cutoff date and time is for entering, but hopefully I’ve made it! Count me in. I would love to learn more about linden among other healing herbs!

  74. Please count me in Gayla. I’ve never foraged for Linden. Thanks for the post though. Cheers

  75. I had a linden bath oil that was really lovely – not too potent – it was yellow if I remember correctly. I think it was from Germany.

  76. My 1 (yet amazing ) memory of the Linden is via visiting Germany many years as a child(my parents birthplace; I was born in Toronto). I’d been gardening as long as I can remember and first heard of a poem “Unter den Linden” and immediately remembered the Linden tree lined street…the fragrance…… Reminds me another home (far away) and my family there…?

  77. man I could use this book – count me in! I have never used linden before but I want to learn more about wild herbs and plants.

  78. I lived in a Latino neighborhood in NYC and I got the loose leaf and tea bags all the time. I read that a tea of the leaves and flowers cleans out the kidneys and removes mucus from the body.It also promotes hair growth. I have been drinking the tea for years. Makes you sleep like a baby. I make a very diluted tea and drink instead of water.

  79. Help….!
    In the last 5 years I have purchased and planted two Linden trees in two different geographical locations in Nova Scotia Canada. In the first year, both trees created blossoms.
    Since that time, while the trees are flourishing, neither of them have produced a single blossom.
    What is the problem?
    Can I add something to the soil? Is this typical?
    The smell of the blossoms is heavenly and I would love to have them back!

    Any help from the horticulturists here?

    • I am by no means an expert as I have not grown my own tree. However, I have heard that they take 10 years to start blooming. You don’t say how old your trees where when you got them, but I wonder if it is possible that they bloomed from the stress of being moved and are now back on track?

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