Small-leaved Lime
(Tilia cordata)
Abrupt point



Winter twig
Winter twig

flowering branch



distribution map

The alternate leaves are heart-shaped, tapering abruptly to a fine tip and are 3-6 cm long. They are dark green, shiny and hairless above and with tufts of rusty hairs only at the junction of the veins below. The margins have sharp teeth and the leaf-stalks are 15-30 mm long.

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Small-leaved Lime is a deciduous tree, up to 25 m in height, with a main trunk often forking above and a smooth grey bark which breaks up into plates later. It is a native of woods on deep, fertile, base-rich soils.

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

The 5-petalled, sweet-smelling, yellow-white flowers are 10-12 mm across and appear in early July.

The group of round fruits are neither ribbed nor hairy. They are dispersed together with the leafy bracts in October.


  • The wood does not warp and is often used for keys and sounding boards of pianos and organs.

  • The wood is soft and even-grained, ideal for carving and was used by one of England's best known carvers, Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721).

  • It was formerly regarded as a holy tree and planted to protect people from evil spirits.


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