Thursday, June 17, 2010

Linden

If in the past couple of weeks you've been walking down the street (or through the cemetery) and have been struck by a pleasant scent, you've probably walked by a linden tree.

Under the leaves, you can see clusters of whitish flowers suspended from long pale-green bracts.

Once the flowers turn into fruit (small fuzzy balls), the bracts aid in seed distribution.

The fragrant flowers are used to make linden flower tea, the very infusion that sparked an awakening in the narrator of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu: "Soon, depressed by the gloomy day and the promise of more like it to come, I took a mechanical sip at a spoonful of tea with a piece of the cake soaked in it. But at the very moment when the sip of tea and cake-crumbs touched my palate, a thrill ran through me and I immediately focused my attention on something strange happening inside me. I had been suddenly singled out and filled with a sweet feeling of joy, although I had no inkling of where it had come from. The joy had instantly made me indifferent to the vicissitudes of life, inoculated me against any setback it might have in store and shown me that its brevity was an irrelevant illusion; it had acted on me as love acts, filling me with a precious essence--or rather, the essence was not put into me, it was me, I was it."

The genus Tilia takes its name from a word meaning flexible or lithe. The wood is easy to work and is used for guitars and wooden blinds.

There are about 30 species of linden trees.

Green-Wood's collection includes at least five different linden species.

2 comments:

  1. and it's the madeleine that gets all the attention!

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  2. guitars and wooden blinds...

    ReplyDelete