Search this site
Trees of heaven
Print this page
Link to this page
Add page to favourites
A frequent tree in towns and parks, in fact it was so 'commonly' planted in the 17th century that this is how it's name came about!
What other names does it have?
Can also be known as
Tilia x europaea
Latin family name
What type of tree is it?
Is it a broadleaf or conifer?
It is a broadleaf
Does it lose its leaves in autumn?
Yes, it is deciduous
Flimsy leaves with the undersides a shiny pale green
10 x 10cm
Colour of leaves in autumn
Looking a little like a boxing glove with one small red bud scale and one large red bud scale. They are also fringed with fine hairs
Flower, seed, and fruit
Type of flower
Green ripening to brown
Type of seed body
Seeds dispersed by
Bark and twig
Pale grey-brown and irregularly ridged. Characteristic large burrs and covered in leaf shoots at the base of the tree
Slender and brown although they turn more red in the sun
What other trees are similar?
Can easily be confused with?
Large leaved lime - this has larger leaves which are softly furry
Small leaved lime- this has smaller leaves and reddish tufts under the leaves at the vein joints
Where is it usually found?
Is it native or non-native to the British Isles?
Where is its natural range?
Somewhat debated as it can be a natural hybrid or offspring of the large and small leaved limes. So would be native wherever these two trees are found. But many of the trees are a horticulturally cultivated tree which would technically be considered non-native
Preferred soil type or environmental conditions?
Tolerates a wide variety of conditions. A very widely planted street, park and landscape tree
What is its British conservation status?
Human uses of tree and timber
Like other limes the common lime can be coppiced and used as fuel, hop-poles, bean-sticks, cups, ladles, bowls and morris dancing sticks! However the most common use of this tree seems to be as an ornamental tree in large parks or estates. Avenues of lime are common and were widely planted. Other uses include the fibrous layer of under-bark called ‘bast’ which could be twisted into ropes or used to make sandals. The leaves were also useful as fodder for livestock and the very young leaves were a tasty sandwich filling! The blossom can also be used to make tea which was used during the war as a mild sedative. Even the small round fruits are just about edible and have a cocoa-like taste.
Tree lore and folklore
Limes are widely considered a female tree and have links to fertility. It is not really known how this came about but it is thought to date back to the Dark Ages. In France and Switzerland the lime is a symbol of liberty as collections of limes were planted to celebrate different battles which freed the countries from domination by others.
Illustrations supplied by
©2013 The Woodland Trust