The following post is taken from the site: http://www.2020site.org/trees/linden.html
To the ancients the Lindens seem to have appealed rather by their utility than by their beauty. It is doubtful whether Aristophanes, in the allusion to the tree in his "Birds," is merely speaking of a rival poet as being light as Linden-wood, or is accusing him more specifically of wearing an effeminate article of dress, strengthened in those days by laths of Linden-wood in place of the whale-bone now usual. Pliny, too, alludes to the lightness of the wood, as well as to the use of the inner bark for paper, when it was known as liber (so becoming extended to books, and giving us the word "library"), and also for tying garlands; whilst Virgil, in the words (Georgics, Book I.):
"Caeditur et tilia ante jugo levis,
"A light linden-tree also is felled betimes for the yoke," is referring to the use of its wood in the making of the plough.
Botanists must ever look with reverence upon this tree; for whether or not a meadow encircled by a hedgerow of Lindens gave the family name to our own great botanist, Lindley, it is tolerably certain that one of these trees growing near the home of his ancestors furnished a cognomen to a far greater than Lindley, the immortal Carl von Linne, better known as Linnaeus.
Apart from any associations, however, the Lindens are sufficiently beautiful and sufficiently useful to command attention. They are straight-stemmed trees, with smooth bark, either round-topped, or, when more perfectly developed, draped in equal drooping boughs from the ground to their summits, eighty or ninety feet in height, so as to present a grand columnar aspect. Then, as the poet says--
"all about the large lime feathers low--
The lime, a summer home of murmurous wings"
They may reach five, or even nine, feet in diameter, the latter being the size of the famous tree that gave the town of Neustadt, in Wurtemberg, the name of "Neustadt an der grossen Linden." The delicate leaves are lop-sided, heart-shaped, and gracefully toothed along their margins; the greenish flowers, overflowing with honey and sweetly scented, are borne in stalked clusters of three or four on a curious, adherent, leaf-like bract, which becomes of a buff tint; and the fruits that succeed them are small spherical capsules, which but rarely, however, ripen in England.
Though, owing to their retaining their leaves later into the autumn, some American species are recommended as preferable to the above for avenues--the great ornamental use of the Linden--the European forms cannot be denied to have a choice beauty of their own. In early spring, the red-tinted twigs, like branching coral, bear buds which throw off scales, or "stipules," blushing pink and white, only to reveal the first delicate gloss of the tender leaf. The leaves then hang vertically downwards, and the older ones are so folded over the younger as in every way to protect them as far as possible from the nipping effects of excessive radiation in our frosty May nights. It is said, moreover, to be the mode of their arrangement in the buds that produces, as it were mechanically, the graceful one-sidedness in the outline of their base which is not un-common among forest trees. The leaves are also at this season more gracefully tapered at the apex than later, when they increase in breadth; and the charm of their pendent position and bright and graceful greenery naturally suggested cheerfulness to Chaucer, when he wrote, in his "Clerke's Tale" :--
"Be ay of chere as light as lefe on Linde."
It was, too, at this, the season of its virginal beauty, that Mrs. Browning paid her more explicit tribute to the Linden, of which she wrote :--
'Here a Linden-tree stood, bright'ning
All adown its silver rind;
For, as some trees draw the lightning,
So this tree, unto my mind,
Drew to earth the blessed sunshine
From the sky where it was shrined"
In summer its foliage becomes duller in tone, as do most leaves, from the dense accumulation of their green coloring matter, or chlorophyll, and of other substances within their cells. The tree, however, then acquires a new beauty--that of blossom. The curious membranous bracts, of a tint resembling the petals of the mignonette--a tint which gave to the silk-mercer the name tilleul for one of his numerous novelties in aniline--then unfold their inconspicuous flowers. Inconspicuous they may be in their small, regular whorls of greenish organs; but their perfume, and their copious stores of nectar, render them as attractive to the insect world as the most gaily-colored of blossoms, so that the whole tree hums like a vast living hive of bees. The pale-colored honey made by the busy visitors from the Linden blossoms is of excellent quality.
Autumn brings new grace as the foliage turns to yellow, clear in some years as the green of spring; but, alas! even more fleeting. The avenue which has been so full of green and golden light, and scented so sweetly, soon becomes strewn with fallen leaves, from which the green and gold have faded, as the hopes and happiness of youth fade in the autumn of disappointment.
The sap of the Linden can be fermented into an agreeable wine; its wood makes a fine charcoal, and is used for musical instruments, while the bark is in Germany used in the manufacture of cordage.
It seems, however, to be mean and petty to be thinking of the uses to which its dead body can be put, when in the presence of the majestic beauty of a living Linden, rising in its columnar form like some gigantic Norman pillar of verdure from the park or lawn. Were it absolutely useless as timber or for other purposes, were it even destitute of its mellifluous flowers with their delicious perfume, the Linden would yet, for the sake of its form and its foliage alone, deserve to be a favorite tree; and it is fortunate that, though its excessive formation of honey-dew is somewhat of a drawback to its use in gardens, it is fairly able to withstand London smoke, and thus precedes the planes and poplars in enlivening our parks and squares. It submits meekly to the pruning-knife, and, horribile dictu! the saw, of the suburban gardener, and, as a consequence of this patience, may be seen in too many places butchered into carcases that even the beautifying and healing hand of Nature in spring can hardly succeed in rendering aught but repulsive.
It is undoubtedly a regrettable circumstance that, as they precede many other trees in unfolding, so too the leaves of the Linden precede those of most other trees in falling, and remind us, as they litter our lawns, of the approach of autumn. But at that season we still have our planes in full verdure; and even sycamores and horse-chestnuts, not to mention oaks and elms, show no signs as yet of leaving us a mere mass of melancholy boughs.
Taken from the site: http://www.2020site.org/trees/linden.html