SILVER LIME (TILIA TOMENTOSA)
The Silver lime tree was introduced into the UK in 1767 and became a popular choice of tree for landscaping and green spaces. It is native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. It can reach heights of up to 25m and is usually broadly pyramidal in shape. There are several cultivars of which 'Petiolaris' has a weeping nature and is sometimes called the pendent or weeping Silver lime. The Silver lime can tolerate pollution so can be used as a street tree, although in Exeter they are mainly planted in parks and green spaces. There is a good specimen at the Cowick Barton playing Fields and also the Exwick cemetery. There are also several small Silver limes on the quayside.
It is unclear of the typical lifespan as the tree is not native to the UK, but like most members of the Tilia family it should happily live up to 500 years in the conditions and with good care. There is a 450+ year old Silver Lime in Romania called Eminescu. The famous poet Mihai Eminescu reportedly wrote some of his best works underneath this tree. For this reason the fantastic tree is one of Romania's most important natural monuments and is a landmark.
The bark of mature Silver lime trees is a pale grey-brown colour and has irregularly smooth ridges. Typically the bole of Silver Lime is quite clean and tidy compared to the Common Lime and the Small-leaved Lime. These two tree species tend to throw up lots of suckers at the base of the bole which helps with identification. This is more a 'rule of the thumb' as I have seen several Silver lime trees with base suckers - but typically only a few. If you see a Lime tree with a very dense amount of suckers / foilage at the base of the bole it's likely to be a Common Lime tree. One thing to be careful of is that the leaves on the suckers at the base are very different to the rest of the tree and can easily lead to a mis-identification. Try and use leaves that from the general foilage / crown of the tree as this will help with a more accurate identification. Quite often the size of the leaves on the root suckers can be double the size of the leaves higher up in the canopy. The twigs are slighlty zig zag apperance and the buds resemeble small red boxing gloves. The colour of the buds are not as deep red as most of the other Lime species.
Large-leaved lime is a deciduous tree and can reach heights of up to 40m. The crown is broad and dome shaped
The flowers are white-yellow with five petals and hang in clusters of 4 - 10 typically. Flowering is usually June to July
The leaves are heart shaped and around 4 - 13cm in length. The surface of the leaves is slightly rough to the touch but the underneath is slightly wooly. If you look at the underside of the leaves they are silvery white wherewas the the surface is a dark green. Even the young leaves (April time) have the silvery white colour which makes idenfitication easier. The buds are red all year around except in the summer when they are green. During the winter when twig and bud identification is frequent the Silver lime buds are often known as little red boxing gloves. The branches tend to sweep outwards and curve a little. Due to their growth habit they make for a fantastic shade tree when they get to a good size.
Flowering for the Silver Lime is normally in July which is the same as the Common Lime and the Small-leaved lime. The flowers are quite small and hang in clusters of 3 to 10 and are accompanied by a leafy yellow-green subtending bract. The flowers have white petals with yellow male parts (anthers) and the female parts (stigma and ovary) are white. They are pollinated mainly by bees and on a sunny day the noise from the hundreds of busy bees is fantastic. It is also known as the Bee tree as they adore the sweet nectar. For this reason Bee keepers often keep or have Lime trees nearby to assist with making even sweeter honey. On a hot summers day with a gentle breeze the sweet smell of the flowers can be smelled from a fair distance. The flowers mature into small round / oval shaped drupe with a pointed tip. They start off a dull green and mature into a light brown colour and are dispersed by the wind. The fruit of the tree is referred to as nutlets and the structure that holds the flowers / fruit is called a cyme. The nutlets of the Silver lime are covered in downy hairs and are slightly ribbed. This can also help with identification as each type of Lime tree has specific features of the nutlets.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
- Large-leaved lime is a large deciduous tree and can grow to heights of up 25m
- The Silver lime tree was introduced into the UK in 1767
- Other common names are European white lime and Silver Linden
- Despite the name containing the word lime it has nothing to do with the citrust fruit lime
- The old english name for these trees were called Lind
- Outside of the UK they are often referred to as Linden trees
- During the 18th century many Lime trees were imported from the Netherlands to grace the gardens of stately homes
- It can tolerate pollution and is generally tolerant to drought, salt and heat
- Unlike the Common lime which is prone to aphid attack the Silver lime is not
- Aphid's in large numbers excrete a sticky substance called honeydew
- The bark of mature Silver lime trees is a pale grey-brown colour and has irregularly ridges
- The stringy inner bark is called bass or bast which has been used to make mats, ropes, and baskets
- It is often used for carvings and the sounding boards for pianos, and for charcoal used by artists
- The wood is white, smooth and close-grained
- It is a light wood and doesn't become worm-eaten
- Lime has been coppiced and used as fuel, hop-poles, bean-sticks and bowls
- Typically Silver Lime trees have no suckers at the base but this is not a reliable method of identiciation
- The leaves of the suckers are very different than that of the leaves further up the tree which can lead to further mis-identification
- The buds are alternately arranged on the twigs
- The twigs are slighlty zig zag apperance and the buds resemeble small red boxing gloves
- The colour of the buds is typically red but this only applies to Spring, Autumn and Winter. In the Summer the buds are green
- Around July the tree is in flower and really stands out
- The sweet nectar from the thousands of flowers can be smelt from a fair distance which is why Lime trees are also known as the 'Bee Tree' as they adore the flowers
- The flowers are insect pollinated - mainly by bees
- The flowers are quite small and hang in clusters of 3 to 10 and are accompanied by a leafy yellow-green subtending bract
- The flowers have white petals with yellow male parts (anthers) and the female parts (stigma and ovary) are white
- The flowers mature into small round / oval shaped drupe with a pointed tip
- They start off a dull green and mature into a light brown colour and are dispersed by the wind
- The fruit of the tree is referred to as nutlets and the structure that holds the flowers / fruit is called a cyme
- The nutlets of the Large-leaved lime are covered in downy hairs and only slightly ribbed
- The leaves are heart shaped and around 4 - 13cm in length
- The surface of the leaves is slightly rough to the touch but the underneath is wooly to the touch
- Lime nail gall (Eriophyes tiliae) is a small mite that causes the upright red bugle like structures on the surface of the leaves
- When trying to ID a Lime tree never rely on the base suckers / leaves.
- The leaves are finely serrated edges compared to other types of Lime tree
- During the French Revolution, more than 60,000 Lime trees were planted in all the districts of France
- In the Middle Ages Lime trees were planted near hospitals because they made the air healthier and calmer
- The Celts and the Germans claimed that truth emerged under the shade of a Lime tree
- In Eastern countries it sometimes called the tree of justice
- In France and Switzerland, limes represent liberty, and the trees were planted to celebrate different battles
- Lime leaves are the food source of caterpillars of the lime hawk, vapourer, peppered, triangle and scarce hook-tip moth
PLEASE LEAF ME ANY FEEDBACK / COMMENTS
If there is anything out of place or wrong please contact me. Equally if there is anything you wish to add please let me know. The more information we have about this tree the better. Many thanks!