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Linden - Lime - Basswood Honey

Linden - Bassword (Tilia americana)

Obtained from the blossoms of Linden or Basswood trees of several species of Tilia; it is known as Linden or Basswood honey in North America and Lime honey in the UK and Europe. It is a premier honey that has been enjoyed for thousands of years. At the height of blossoming in a Linden grove or on a street lined with Linden trees, the ambrosial aroma of the tiny yellow-white flowers surrounds you and draws bees from miles around. Among the most common Linden trees in the United States is the Tilia americana and the White Basswood (Tilia heterophylla). The White Basswood is known as the Bee tree because of the generous amounts of nectar produced by its drooping clusters of flowers (similar to most of the Tilia species). Linden trees and honey are most common east of the Mississippi especially in the more temperate northern regions. Linden grow strongly around the Appalachians. It is also found in central and eastern European countries, Russia and China as the Small-leaved Lime (Tilia Cordata). During strong nectar flows it can be seen glistening on the flowers like morning dew. Nectar flows in late spring to early summer and flows strongest in warm humid weather.

Linden - Basswood- Lime Honey

The species of Tilia does not affect the sensory characteristics of Linden Honey, the following applies for Linden honey from all species of Linden. The intensity of the aroma and the taste is stronger than the color would indicate. The usual rule of darker is stronger is broken with Linden honey. When very fresh it has a greenish color, but after a time it becomes clear to amber with a yellow tone. The aroma is described as woody, pharmacy and fresh, also described as mint, balsamic, menthol and camphor. It has low acidity, medium sweet and sometimes a light bitterness. It has a persistent aftertaste and is slightly astringent. The crystallization rate is medium to fast with fine to medium sized crystals. Other aromatic notes (see chemical analysis below): spicy-thyme, mentholated, geranium, hay, phenolic. It goes well with lemon sherbet or herbal teas.

Therapeutic (folk remedies): Linden honey has a wide range of applications, it is primarily used for treating colds and fevers as a diaphoretic, and it is used as a fortifying agent and supports the heart. In Eastern Europe and Russia, it is widely used in the treatment of sore throat, rhinitis, and laryngitis. Linden honey mixed with lemon is used to overcome upcoming colds, and along with tea is said to help in the treatment of liver and gall bladder, and relieve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is applied externally to help heal festering sores on the skin, eczema, and burns.

History:
The Linden tree has played many roles in history, both symbolic and practical. Since pre-Christian times in Europe, it has been known as a mystical tree of life, tree of health, judicial tree, victory tree, fertility tree and as a social or dance tree. Linden trees where mentioned by the ancient Roman naturalist Pliny and in Greek mythology. And with good cause. Linden trees grow high to over 100 feet with large, heart-shaped leaves and multitudes of blossoms with a sweet smell like that of mignonette. With a lifetime of over a thousand years, it was often planted at the center of a town where it became a meeting spot for generations of town leaders and townspeople’s social events. With such a venerable history, many nations have named cities after the Linden and cities with the name, “Linden,” may be found in Australia through Europe to the USA (where cities may be found in a dozen states). “Lipa”, the Linden tree is the national symbol of Slovenia and has played a central part in Slovenia’s history from pre Roman times. The famous Rut Linden Tree, grows beside a church in the middle of the beautiful mountain hamlet of Rut, above the Baška Grapa Valley. It is said to be one of the most magnificent trees in Slovenia; more than 850 years old, it has a girth of 26 feet.

Mentioned in many ancient writings and stories, one of the most famous is the Roman myth of the poverty-stricken but proud Phrygian couple, Baucis and Philemon, who are rewarded by the gods, Jupiter and Mercury, in thanks for their hospitality, by granting them eternity together as a Linden and Oak tree.

Identifying odors through chemical analysis:
To credibly market honey, a great deal of research is being done to be able to reliably identify and confirm the source of honey. The usual technique used to identify a monofloral honey is pollen, but there has been some work to identify chemical volatile compound markers that are unique to specific monofloral honeys. These volatile markers have their own odors; knowing these, and when they are present in detectable concentrations, one can discover subtle aromatic notes otherwise missed. For instance, two major components responsible for the odor of Linden honey are, terpenes linden ether (3,9-epoxy-1,4(8)-p-menthadiene) that has a flowery, mint-like odor, and cis-rose oxide that has a powerful, green, geranium type odor.

Other components found to uniquely identify Linden honey. Listed as, component: odor
a/ ethylmethylphenol isomer (>31 ppb): phenolic (scorched, hospital-like, pharmaceutical, bakelite)
b/ 4-tert-butylphenol, estragole (>51 ppb): phenolic (scorched, hospital-like, pharmaceutical, bakelite)
c/ p-methylacetophenone: hay
d/ monoterpene-derived compounds (menthol, thymol,8-p-menthene-1,2-diol, and carvacrol (>76 ppb)): spicy-thyme, mentholated
e/ methyl(1-methylethenyl)benzene: vegetable

Honey Origins: United States, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, East & South East Europe, Russia, Poland

Latin Name: Tilia ssp., Tilia americana, Tilia heterophylla, Tilia Cordata

Translations: Italian: Miele di Tiglio, France: Miel de Tilleul, German: Lindenhonig, Spanish: Miel de Tilo, Lithuanian: liepų medaus, Bulgarian: липа мед, Russian: Липовый мед, Slovenia: Lipov med, Polish: Miód lipowy
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References, additional reading:
- Interesting note on perfumery and Linden
- Volatile Compounds used to identify Chestnut and Lime Tree Honeys. Christine Guyot, Amina Bouseta, Vincent Scheirman, and Sonia Collin* from J. Agric. Food Chem. 1998, 46, 625-633| S0021-8561(97)00510-4 CCC: $15.00 © 1998 American Chemical Society, Published on Web 01/17/1998 (pdf 168 KB)

17 comments to Linden – Lime – Basswood Honey

  • Hello: What part of Poland are Linden-Lime trees most prevalent? The surname Lipinski is said to be based on the names of these trees. Thanks.

  • HT

    In Poland the Linden is common throughout the country although not in large clusters. In the city of Cielętniki grows the largest linden in Poland. It is 35 meters high, 520 years old. Large Linden trees of circumference greater than 300 cm are considered national monuments in Poland. The word for Linden in Polish is “Lipa”

  • The Basswood Tree of Northern America

    I really enjoyed this article!

  • Bonnie

    I really enjoyed reading this informational article – only 1 thing missing — where do you buy the tea of basswood linden tree lime tree tea or the honey of these ingredients? Thanks
    Bonnie

  • HT

    Hi Bonnie:

    For the honey in the USA, you can try Honey Locator – Linden Honey and for the tea, try Amazon Linden Tea.

    -Scott

  • Xinyi Huang

    Can you just tell me where to buy tilia honey in USA? Is there any website?

  • Hi Xinyi:

    You can get Basswood honey at Honey Acres in Wisconsin. Their online store is down right now, but send them an email or phone them to arrange a purchase. I am lucky to be near the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. They have honey made from their large grove of Linden trees that is sold in their shop. Ironically people don’t realize how special that honey is, thinking it is just like every other honey for sale in touristy shops. I hope you are able to find some.

    …Scott

  • Very good write up. Thank you for commenting on our blog regarding Linden/Basswood.

    I had no idea it can be used for honey!

    If you want to know more about this amazing wild edible plant check our write up out here – Edible Wild Plants: Basswood or Linden (Tiliaceae), The Chocolate Substitute

    Thanks,
    Sara @ EmergencyOutdoors.com

  • Thanks Sara!

    I can’t take credit for the post, it was made by another honey traveler! Nevertheless, I enjoyed your post. It was a fascinating account of the the use of the fruit of Linden as a chocolate substitute. I agree that the spoilage problem could likely be solved now. With the current popularity in Chocolate, I think there would be some interest in new sources.

    I see you are also going to discuss another interesting honey plant, the Chinquapin (or Chinkapin) a relatively rare type of chestnut tree that produces a strong bitter honey and is found in the eastern United states. I have never had the pleasure of trying this honey but I wonder how it would compare to Strawberry Tree honey, another bitter strongly flavored honey from the Mediterranean area that is one of my favorites. The Chinkapin is also affected by the blight that devastated the chestnut trees of eastern United states in an ecological disaster, but fortunately is is not as susceptible and we still have them. Read about it here, Chestnut Honey.

    …Scott

  • very good article.

    Do you know any good reputational manufactuers in Russia, who can export Russian Linden honey to my city–Shanghai,China? can you recommend that to me?

    Thank you!

  • Hi Amy:

    I don’t know any off hand, but perhaps someone reading here can suggestion someone.

    …Scott

  • Kristina

    Hi everyone who loves raw Linden honey:)
    I’m working on my own website at the moment, but I’ve started to sell natural raw linden honey. My parents are beekeepers for many years. The bee farm is situated amongst the lush green Linden tree valleys in Lithuania. Contact me if interested via email: purelindenhoney@gmail.com

  • I was pleased to find some linden honey at a Home Goods store. But I need to know whether or not I need to refrigerate after opening. The honey is from Germany and states natural Thank you

  • Piotr

    Hello,
    Thinking about getting honey from Eastern Europe You might be interested in Poland as people have been talking here about. My place is also quite big and I’d be interested in exporting of raw linden honey. If You’d be interested in buying honey from Poland please contact me at piotrkopcisz@o2.pl

    Regards
    Piotr Kopcisz

  • Hi Teri:

    You don’t need to refrigerate your honey unless you plan on keeping it for a long time (3+ months). It is a natural bactericide.

    If it is very runny, then you may also consider refrigerating it, as it may have a high water content and ferment. While not necessarily dangerous, it is not very tasty.

    …Scott

  • susan

    interesting post. I have always loved the smell of linden flowers, especially when it comes made into soap, my English upbringing taught me the song about the Linden tree.
    My husband was a beekeeper,on Vancouver Island, his father taught him to keep them. His parents were from Poland and emigrated to Ontario where his father kept bees in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He always talked about the basswood trees and it is only now that I realize that Basswood and Linden are one and the same species. i did not know that. Thanks

  • Hi Susan:

    That is a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.

    …Scott

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