linden, common name for the Tiliaceae, a family of chiefly woody shrubs and trees. Most genera are tropical, but the genus Tilia, commonly called linden, or lime tree, in Europe and Asia and basswood in North America, is found throughout the north temperate zone. These deciduous trees are valued for ornament and shade. Their light, strong lumber, often called basswood, or whitewood, is variously employed, e.g., for woodenware and cheap furniture, and for beehives and honeycomb frames. The nectar of the flowers is a commercial source of an excellent honey; the blossoms themselves are used for tea. Fiber was formerly made from the tough inner bark, or bast (hence the name basswood), which is still used for caning and wickerwork. The most important member of the family economically is the tropical genus Corchorus, from which jute is obtained. The linden family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Malvales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.