Malvaceae (mallow family) Tilia

Tilia cordata little-leaf linden

Tilia cordata at 550 Lasuen Mall. Sairus Patel, 29 May 2019
Tilia cordata leaf and flowers. From An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees, Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino

A pleasant deciduous tree with heart-shaped toothed leaves about 3 inches across and with a point. The leaf is dark green above, paler underneath, and has rusty tufts of down in the rib axils. The leaves alternate between left and right handed, successive leaves being mirror images of each other. A distinctive feature of lindens is the way the flower stalk rises from the middle of a special leaf-like bract. The flower buds are 3/16-inch green knobs, the small white flowers are fragrant, and the fruit is a brown furry ¼-inch nut, its length slightly greater than its diameter, in a five-ribbed hard shell containing a single kernel. Viewed end-on, the cross section is a pentagon.

If you have ever been to England you will have noticed that the most outstanding examples of wood carving in cathedrals, chapels, and stately homes seem to have been done by one man, Grinling Gibbons (1648–1720). All this work was carved from the wood of the lime tree, as the linden is known there. The fibrous bast was widely used for cordage and matting.

Five trees grow at 550 Lasuen Mall. Four in front of Storey House next door and four across the street at Muwekma-tah-ruk, 543 Lasuen Mall, were removed around 2012–2015.

One tall specimen stands on the southwest corner of Stauffer II Physical Chemistry building; another, its companion, was removed in 2016 when Stauffer III was demolished. Half a dozen front Green Earth Sciences at the start of Panama Street. Three (reputed to be Greenspire®) are on the northwest corner of ΠΒΦ at the corner of Campus Drive East and Bowdoin Street (1967); they used to form a shady row with six more on the southwest side of ΔΔΔ House, which were removed in 2015.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Removals noted June 2019 by Sairus Patel; all locations up to date (Jun 2019, SP). The Stauffer, Green Earth, and Greenspire® specimens were noted as appearing to be hybrids; more investigation is needed. Family name updated to Malvaceae from Tiliaceae (Aug 2019, SP).