Common Lime
(Tilia x europaea)
Simple
Roundish
Alternate
Toothed
Abrupt point

leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

fruits

tree

distribution map

The alternate leaves, which are heart-shaped with a drawn-out pointed tip, are 5-10 cm long. They are dark green and hairless above, but have tufts of white hairs at the junctions of the veins below. The margins have small, sharp teeth, whilst the leaf-stalks are 3-5  cm long. The leaves often have 'blisters' on the upper surface, caused by sap-sucking insects.

ID check

Common Lime is a  tall, deciduous tree, with arching lower branches, which reaches 25 m in height. The old bark is grey and fissured and punctuated by irregular bosses. It is an introduced species, which has been widely planted in 'avenues' on estates, in streets, parks and large gardens.

The flowers are arranged in hanging groups of 4-10 on a long stalk with a linear, green, leaf-like bract attached above.

The 5-petalled, sweet-smelling, yellowish-white flowers are 15  mm across and appear in early July.

The group of round, hairy and faintly ribbed fruits are dispersed together with the green bract, which floats them away from the tree in October.

Facts

  • This is the tallest broad-leaved tree in Britain and it originated as a hybrid between the large-leaved and small-leaved lime.

  • The stringy inner bark called 'bass' was once used to make mats and ropes, whilst the wood is still used for carving and making musical instruments.

  • Nectar from the flowers provides food for honey bees in July.

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