Common lime - leaves & young flowers - June 2019
It is a hybrid between small-leaved and large-leaved lime, common lime has characteristics of both species. The bark is pale grey-brown and irregularly ridged, with characteristic large burrs and leaf shoots at the base of the tree. Twigs are slender and brown, although they become red in the sun. The leaf buds are red / green, with one small scale and one large scale, resembling a boxing glove, and form on long leaf stalks. The leaves are dark green in colour, heart-shaped and flimsy and measure 6–10cm in length. They have a lopsided, lobed leaf base and tufts of white hairs in vein axils, and fade to a dull yellow before falling in autumn. All limes are hermaphrodite, meaning both the male and female reproductive parts are contained within one flower. Flowers are white-yellow, five-petalled and hang in clusters of 2-5 and have a drooping habit. Once pollinated by insects, they develop into round-oval, slightly ribbed fruits, with a pointed tip. The heart shaped leaves have white-cream hairs in the vein axils on the underside. Lime leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of many moth species, including the lime hawk, peppered, vapourer, triangle and scarce hook-tip moths. They are very attractive to aphids, providing a source of food for their predators, including hoverflies, ladybirds and many species of bird (bees also drink the aphid honeydew deposited on the leaves). The flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects, particularly bees. Long-lived trees provide dead wood for wood-boring beetles, and nesting holes for birds. Lime wood is soft and light, white-yellow and finely textured. It is easy to work and often used in turnery, carving and furniture making. Lime bark was traditionally used to make rope, and lime flowers were considered a valuable source of food for honey bees. The wood does not warp and is still used today to make sounding boards and piano keys. Limes can be coppiced and used for fuel, hop-poles, bean-sticks, cups, ladles, bowls and even Morris dancing sticks. The most common use of common lime is as an ornamental tree in large parks and estates. === Other common names common lime European basswood European lime Russian bast tree === Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Rosids Order: Malvales Family: Malvaceae Genus: Tilia Species: T. × europaea Binomial name Tilia × europaea
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