Bigleaf linden

Tilleul à grandes feuilles

Tilia platyphyllos Scop.Malvaceae (mallow family)

Origin: Europe and western Asia


Bigleaf linden is a medium-sized tree with a straight trunk and a rounded crown.

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Leaves are round with sharp teeth along the edges, pointed tips, and asymmetrical bases.

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Flowers are small, creamy, borne in few-flowered clusters attached to a pale green strap-like bract.

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Fruits are greyish, round, ribbed capsules with hard shells that hang from the strap-like bracts.

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Bigleaf linden is a medium-sized tree, up to 24 m (80'), with a straight trunk and a rounded crown.

Bark is grey-brown with furrows and ridges some of which intersect.

Twigs are zig-zagged, red or green-brown with fine hairs and reddish buds, 6 mm (1/4") long. There is no terminal bud but the final lateral bud is close to the tip of the twig.

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Leaves are 6.5 - 13 cm (2 1/2" - 5") long, nearly as wide as long, with pointed tips, asymmetrical bases, and slightly irregular sharp teeth along the edges.

The undersides of the leaves are lighter in colour with a velvety texture from fine soft hairs which may only be visible in the vein axils.

Leaves have an alternate arrangement on the branch.

In the fall, leaves turn yellow.

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Flowers are borne in clusters of 3 - 6 from a pale green strap-like bract 5 - 12 cm (2" - 5") long.

Flowers are fragrant, small, creamy, with prominent stamens.

Flowers appear in June after the leaves have emerged.

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Fruits are hard-shelled capsules that hang from the strap-like bract, and mature in the fall.

Fruits are 8 - 12 mm (1/3" - 1/2") wide, covered in pale-coloured hairs, round, with 5 longitudinal ribs that join at the tip. Ribs may not be visible before fruit is mature.

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Bigleaf linden is native to Europe, where it has long been cultivated.


Bigleaf lindens, like some other lindens, are very long-lived. One specimen of bigleaf linden in Germany is estimated to be around 1,500 years old.


Traditionally the lindens were classified in the linden family (Tiliaceae) but have fairly recently been incorporated into the mallow family (Malvaceae).

Derivation of names

The genus name Tilia is the classical Latin name for the linden. In Britain Tilia species are referred to as limes while North American Tilia species are called basswoods. The species name platyphyllos is derived from Greek and means broad-leaved, which, along with the alternate common names bigleaf linden and large-leaved linden, refers to the size of the leaves.

Related species

Linden trees, other than American basswood, can be very difficult to tell apart. There are many species, hybrids and cultivated varieties (cultivars) of lindens from Europe that have similar features. They all share broad, somewhat asymmetrical, somewhat heart-shaped leaves but differ in size, nature of the teeth, and type and quantity of hair on the underside.

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Bigleaf linden IN TORONTO

Bigleaf linden's place in Toronto's urban forest

Bigleaf linden is occasionally planted in parks and on streets.

Landscape value and potential for home planting

Bigleaf linden is not readily available in North America.

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WHERE CAN I SEE Bigleaf linden?

Find trees on Tree Tour maps at Canadian Tree Tours:

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