The Littleleaf linden is a fragrant shade tree native to Europe. Lindens once blanketed Madison Square Park, but have declined significantly over the decades. Only one of the five original lindens is still present today, located near the fountain and Shake Shack.
Although these trees are not native to New York, they are an important part of the city. Because of this, we plan to plant additional lindens in the park in years to come. A favorite tree of 19th-century European immigrants, lindens were one of the first European trees to be widely planted in American cities. The sight of them and their fragrant smells were a constant reminder of their homelands.
While many non-native trees are left alone by bees and other pollinators, Littleleaf lindens are a huge exception to this. They bear powerfully fragrant, pale yellow flowers in the early summer. When our tree is in full bloom, so many bees visit that an audible buzzing can be heard from the tree. While they may not be as exciting year-round as some other species, they will continue to be part of our urban forest for generations to come.