How do you distinguish summer linden and winter linden?

How do you distinguish summer linden and winter linden?

The distribution areas of the summer linden tree are more southern than those of the winter linden tree. These two species are equally well represented in Central Europe. The Tilia platyphyllos and Tilia cordata both belong to the genus of linden in the mallow family. The appearance of the two types of linden is very similar, but one can distinguish between them by some characteristic features:

  • Growth and branching,
  • Sheet size and surface,
  • Inflorescences and flowers,
  • Fruit.

also read

  • The demands of the winter linden tree are low
  • Late blooming of the winter linden tree
  • Winter linden is also called small-leaved linden

Growth behavior in comparison

In general, the linden species are fast-growing and long-lived. Both winter and summer linden trees are very large trees that can reach heights of 30-40 m. The summer linden tree needs more light and forms a denser crown than the winter linden tree.

Leaves as the main differentiator

The leaves of the summer linden are about 8-12 cm long, evenly green and herbaceous, with velvety hairs on both sides. Leaf stalks are also hairy. On the underside of the leaf there are whitish armpit whiskers that turn brownish in late summer. The winter linden, on the other hand, has smaller, about 4-7 cm long leaves that are leathery and have a lighter, blue to gray-green underside. The petiole and the leaf itself are bare on the upper side, while the lower side is provided with brownish axillary whiskers.

Flowers and fruits

Both types of linden can produce flowers between 10-20 years old, which is quite early in terms of their life expectancy (up to 1000 years). The beginning of flowering is different, also depending on the location and weather conditions. In general, the lush flowering sets in in June, with the summer linden tree blooming about 10-14 days earlier than the winter linden tree. There are 5 to 11 whitish flowers on the inflorescence of the winter linden tree. The inflorescences of the summer linden tree only have 2 to 5 whitish-green flowers.

The linden blossom attracts all kinds of insects that ensure pollination. The flowers turn into fruits: large, woody and pronounced angular in the summer linden; soft, thin and easily crushable in the winter linden tree. Many fruits do not contain seeds, which is why the reproduction of the two types of linden by seeds is rather rare in nature. The vegetative propagation by stick or root eruption is the more common type of propagation in the native linden species.


Dried linden blossom is used in herbal tea blends. The linden blossom tea is used in folk medicine for colds as an expectorant and sweat-inducing agent.