Tilia cordata Mill.

Last updated: 9 January 2017

Scientific Name

Tilia cordata Mill.


Tilia parvifolia Ehrh. ex Hoffm. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Small leaf lime, linden, bee tree, basewood. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Tilia cordata is native to North America and the Tilia species grows through the whole continent. The tree thrives in soils with a high pH and can grow quite quickly. [2]

Botanical Description

T. cordata is a member of Malvaceaefamily. T. cordata are medium-sized deciduous trees native to the eastern half of North America. Due to heavy, free hybridization, the taxonomy of the species is ambiguous. The Linden tree grows within groves of other tree species, rarely in a stand of its own. The widespread crowns of the T. cordata reach an average height of between 18 m and 40 m, with the trunks reaching a width of a little more than a meter. The trunks are covered in light-grey or brown bark with deeply pronounced fissures. From the trunks of the T. cordata grow thick branches that spread widely. The deep green leaves are asymmetrical cordate or ovate in shape and have sharp serration along the edges. Ranging in size from 10-20 cm, the broad, glabrous leaves are alternately arranged on the slim, reddish-green stems. The flowers that bloom in June and August are literally dripping in mucilaginous nectar, making the tree a significant source of food for many species of bees. It is thought that the honey made of T. cordata nectar is sweeter and has a stronger flavor.  The flowers are typically small, white or light yellow and roughly 10-14 mm in length. The fruit borne of the trees are a small, single-seeded nut with a thin shell. [2]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

T. cordata  has been reported to contain alanine, α-pinene, ascorbic acid, β-sitosterol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, cysteine, cystine, docosane, eicosane, eugenol, geraniol, glutamic acid, glycine, hesperidin, hexacosane, isoleucine, kaempferitrin, kaempferols, leucine, limonene, linalol, linalyl-acetate, linarin, linoleic-acid, linolenic-acid, mucilage, nerol, nerolidol, nonadecane, octacosane, octadecane, oleic-acid, p-coumaric-acid, palmitic acid, pentacosane, phenylalanine, phlobaphene, quercetins, quercitirin, saponins, squalene, stigmastanol, stigmasterol, tannins, terpineol, tiliroside,  triacontane, tricosane, tyrosine, valine, xanthophyll. [2][3][4]

Plant Part Used

Barks, stems, leaves, mucilage and flowers. [5]

Traditional Use

The bark of the T. cordata has been used by some Native American tribes to treat several types of gastrointestinal disorders and discomforts. Some tribes, including the Iroquois and Algonquin, have used either an infusion or a decoction of the inner bark, to quell diarrheal ailments and also as an emetic in larger doses. [5] The diuretic properties of T. cordata have been utilized by Native American practitioners to flush out the kidneys, stomach and bladder of unwanted mucous and other substances. [6]

T. cordata has also been used to ease tension and calm nerves when taken as a nerve tonic. [6] Used for this purpose, Native Americans have used decoctions and infusions as internal preparations to treat heart palpitations, and to lower blood pressure and as a general sedative. [7] While some tribes used T. cordata for its relaxant properties, the Iroquois also used infusions of young shoots as an invigorating, or energizing tonic. [6]

Decoctions and infusions of T. cordata roots, bark and stems have been used in Native American practice as an expectorant and to relieve throat and pulmonary infections including, hoarseness, cough, and other ailments associated with excessive mucous. [5][6]

The external applications of the T. cordata have also been used by some Native American tribes to treat many different dermatological maladies. Some poultices are made from the gelatinous mucilage, but the majority of topical applications are either poultices or decoctions of the bark or leaves applied directly to the skin. [5] Dermatological ailments such as eczema, skin ulcerations and suppurations, abrasions and lacerations have all been treated topically by T. cordata. [5][6] The infusions of the tree bark have also been used as eyewashes. [7][8]

Preclinical Data


Extracts from the bracts, flowers and leaves have been examined for sedative and anxiolytic potential as evidence to support the traditional use. [9] The animal models using the various plant parts have demonstrated T. cordata sedative and anxiolytic action as depressant on the central nervous system. [4][10] This CNS depressant activity is thought to be initiated by the flavonoid glycosides, triterpenes and fatty acids present in the plant. [4][11] Extracts of the plant have also demonstrated some limited antinociceptive activity. [12]

The extracts of T. cordata flower were analyzed for anti-proliferative potential, which was demonstrated in two separate laboratory studies. In one study the anti-proliferative activity was determined to be the result of the monoterpene content with limonene demonstrating the strongest activity. [13] The second study identified a coumarin known as scopoletin as having the pronounced activity and found that it was not cytotoxic to normal cells. [14] This immunomodulatory effect of scopoletin has been further demonstrated in laboratory settings. [15]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

No documentation

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

 T. cordata should not to be used by pregnant or nursing women, (even though traditional use has included this herb as a lactation aid). [2][5]

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Based on pharmacology, T. cordata should not to be used with CNS depressants. Not to be used in combination with prescription drug therapy unless directed by a trained professional. [4][9]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Tilia cordata Mill. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jan 22]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2518181
  2. Duke JA. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 1992.
  3. Zub MR. Isolation and study of the flavonoid glycosides from the buds of Tilia cordata. Farm Zh. 1975;30(3):76-79.
  4. Aguirre-Hernández E, Rosas-Acevedo H, Soto-Hernández M, Martínez AL, Moreno J, González-Trujano ME. Bioactivity-guided isolation of beta-sitosterol and some fatty acids as active compounds in the anxiolytic and sedative effects of Tilia americana var.mexicana. Planta Med. 2007;73(11):1148-1155
  5. Moerman DE. Native American ethnobotany. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press; 2009.
  6. Hutchens A. Indian herbalogy of North America. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambala Press; 1991.
  7. Wood M. The book of herbal wisdom. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Press; 1997.
  8. PDR for herbal medicines. Montvale, New Jersey: Medical Economics Company; 2007.
  9. Pérez-Ortega G, Guevara-Fefer P, Chávez M, et al. Sedative and anxiolytic efficacy of Tilia americana var. mexicana inflorescences used traditionally by communities of State of Michoacan, Mexico. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;116(3):461-468.
  10. Aguirre-Hernández E, Martínez AL, González-Trujano ME, Moreno J, Vibrans H, Soto-Hernández M. Pharmacological evaluation of the anxiolytic and sedative effects of Tilia americana L. var. mexicana in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;109(1):140-145.
  11. Herrera-Ruiz M, Román-Ramos R, Zamilpa A, Tortoriello J, Jiménez-Ferrer JE.  Flavonoids from Tilia americana with anxiolytic activity in plus-maze test. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;118(2):312-317.
  12. Martínez AL, González-Trujano ME, Aguirre-Hernández E, Moreno J, Soto-Hernández M, López-Muñoz FJ. Antinociceptive activity of Tilia americana var. mexicana inflorescences and quercetin in the formalin test and in an arthritic pain model in rats. Neuropharmacology. 2009;56(2):564-571.
  13. Manuele MG, Ferraro G, Anesini C. Effect of Tilia x viridis flower extract on the proliferation of a lymphoma cell line and on normal murine lymphocytes: contribution of monoterpenes, especially limonene. Phytother Res. 2008;22(11):1520-1526.
  14. Barreiro Arcos ML, Cremaschi G, Werner S, Coussio J, Ferraro G, Anesini C. Tilia cordata Mill. extracts and scopoletin (isolated compound): Differential cell growth effects on lymphocytes. Phytother Res. 2006;20(1):34-40.
  15. Manuele MG, Ferraro G, Barreiro Arcos ML, López P, Cremaschi G, Anesini C. Comparative immunomodulatory effect of scopoletin on tumoral and normal lymphocytes. Life Sci. 2006;79(21):2043-2048.