When I was working on my portfolio for my certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration from the NY Botanical Garden this year, I decided I wanted to draw trees from Riverside Park, the park I walk in just about every day. When I thought about the trees I would choose, I knew I would have to include one watercolor drawing of the linden tree, one of my favorite trees and one I have photographed many times over the years. I chose to paint the American linden with its larger leaves although the small-leafed linden and the silver linden also grow on Riverside Drive. It took me many tries to compose the drawing so I would be sure to include both sides of the leaves, the bracts in spring and fall, the flowers, and the fruit.
The Linden, Tilia genus, tree grows in many places in the upper west side of Manhattan. There is a large linden grove facing the Hudson River in Fort Tryon Park and many lindens in Central Park, but the one I drew is part of a large stand of linden trees along Riverside Drive from 79thto 96thstreets that I observe throughout the seasons. These beautiful trees with their heart-shaped leaves are of special interest during May and June because their flowers emerge and literally drive bees to drink. Beekeepers love the honey that bees gather from linden flowers. It is a pale golden color and it has a sweet gentle taste; it is said to contain flavonoids which act as antioxidants and tannins that act as an astringent. Linden flowers have also been used in herbal treatments for colds, fevers, inflammation, high blood pressure, headaches, and even as a sedative. New research suggests that the flowers may be hepatoprotective, which means they may have the ability to protect damage to the liver.
The wood from the tree is pale and soft with a fine grain. It has been used for pencils, matches, piano keys, some furniture and is a popular wood for model making and carving. It is used for electric guitar and bass bodies and for wood instruments like recorders. It was even used in ancient times by the Vikings to make their shields. In Slavic mythology the linden, or lipa in most Slavic languages, is a sacred tree whose wood was even chosen to make panel icons for religious use. In the pre-Christian Germanic times, people met under the linden trees to celebrate and dance but also to hold meetings “in order to restore justice and peace.” http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-linden-trees/
We don't meet under the tree to restore justice and peace--that's a pretty large order--but just walking under the green canopy of these magnificent trees can help to restore an inner harmony and peace. I definitely recommend it.