Last year I while walking down a street I’d never been down before I caught whiff of a scent so sweet that I paused and looked around for the source. I carefully examined the two gardens and plantings on the parkway looking for the source of the scent. I crouched down and circled a tree sniffing every bloom in the parkway to no avail. When I finally stood upright my head was underneath the canopy of a young tree covered in tiny yellow flowers, and there was the source of the scent. I made a mental note to look up the tree later and went about my day.
That evening, while at the computer, I remembered the fragrance of the flowers and my mental note from earlier in the day. The problem was I didn’t know what kind of tree I had encountered and didn’t recall ever seeing it before.
My fingers, resting on the keyboard of my laptop, began to tap away on their own. “L-i-n-d-e-n T-r-e-e,” they pecked and hit enter key. In 0.34 seconds Google was showing me pictures of the tree I had spotted earlier. How did I know it was a Linden tree? I have no idea. perhaps, a lucky guess or maybe it was fate that I should know the identity of this tree and pass on word of it.
Since that day I’ve learned that the Linden, also known as Basswood, is a good street tree candidate, although it is sensitive to road salt. It is hardy and tolerant of alkaline soils. The pyramidal shape of the crown makes it a good candidate for a shade tree.
The yellowish-white flowers have to be the best reason to plant this tree. They’re said to be honeybee magnets and a delicious honey is produced from the nectar. The flowers can be steeped in mineral oil to make a perfume or harvested and dried to make a tea.
In the fall when the seed pods that resemble peas parachute-like bract to the ground. They too can be harvested, roasted and ground to brew what is described as a “chocolate-flavored” coffee substitute.
A city tree that provides; shade, fragrance and edible flowers/fruit. How many more reasons do you need to plant this tree in Chicago?