Characteristics of Japanese Linden Tree (Tilia japonica) in the Wild

Tilia japonica
Japanese linden or Japanese lime (Tilia japonica) is a species of deciduous tree native to Japan. This tree grows in the mountains to an altitude of 2,000 m asl.

Tilia japonica is the official tree of the city of Nagano, Japan.

At first glance, it resembles Tilia cordata, but it differs in having 164 chromosomes instead of 82, and by some subtle differences in leaf and flower morphology. The inflorescences of Tilia japonica consistently have 5 staminodes, which is a reliable trait to distinguish it from Tilia cordata and Tilia amurensis. Recent studies have shown that Tilia japonica plays an important role in maintaining ectomycorrhizal tissue in local forests growing in Japan.


Japanese linden is often grown as an ornamental tree because of its attractive fall leaf color. One of its cultivars ‘Ernest Wilson’ has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

The wood is quite fine and can be used to make furniture, it is also used in the manufacture of veneers, fabrics, and paper.

Like other linden trees, Japanese linden is also a source of premium honey.

In ancient times, the Ainu used linden bark fibers to make textiles such as clothing. Even now it is sometimes used as a material for interior accessories.


Characteristics of Japanese Linden Leaf

Tilia japonica Leaf

The leaves are alternate, 6-9 cm long, 5-6 cm wide, tapered at the tip, not symmetrical, and the edges of the leaves have sharp serrations. It has a bright green color in the spring but turns bright yellow in the fall.


Characteristics of Japanese Linden Flower

Tilia japonica Flower

The flowers are small in color and pale yellow. The flower stalks branch from the inflorescences and hangs down. The inflorescence pattern is characterized by having spatula-shaped bracts.

The flowering season in Japan is early summer (June-July).


Characteristics of Japanese Linden Fruit

Tilia japonica Fruit

The fruit is nearly round, with grayish-brown hairs, about 5 mm in diameter, and ripens in the fall.


Characteristics of Japanese Linden Tree

Tilia japonica Tree

Japanese linden is a broadleaf tree up to 25 meters high and has a trunk diameter of 1 meter. The bark is dark brown, the surface is thin, scaly, shallow, and easily torn.

This tree is spread in Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and grows in the mountains.


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