Under The Linden Trees

Slovenia's national tree, the stately linden (or common lime), and its heart-shaped leaf have become something of a symbol of Slovenia and Slovenian hospitality.

The linden (lipa) grows slowly for about 60 years and then suddenly spurts upward and outwards, living to a ripe old age. It is said that a linden grows for 300 years, stands still for another 300 and takes 300 years to die.

Linden wood was used by the Romans to make shields and, as it is easy to work with, artisans in the Middle Ages carved religious figures from it, earning linden the title sacrum lignum, or ‘sacred wood’. Tea made from the linden flower, which contains aromatic oils, has been used as an antidote for fever and the flu at least since the 16th century. More importantly, from earliest times the linden tree was the focal point of any settlement in Slovenia – the centre of meetings, arbitration, recreation and, of course, gossip. The tree, which could never be taller than the church spire, always stood in the middle of the village, and important decisions were made by town elders at a table beneath it. In fact, so sacred is the linden tree to Slovenes that its destruction is considered a serious offence.

Slovenia’s oldest linden is the 800-year-old Najevska Lipa under Koroška’s Mt Peca, where Slovenian politicians meet in June. We give it another century.