Lime leaf


Palalwyfen. Tilia sp.

There are three species of lime native to Britain: the large-leaved, small-leaved and common lime. Small-leaved lime was a dominant tree in the vast woodlands that grew after the last ice age. Today, lime trees are a much rarer addition to our wildwoods. All limes are hermaphrodites, meaning the male and female reproductive parts co-exist in the same flower. The flowers are pollinated by insects, after which the creamy blossoms transform into round or oval fruits with a pointed tip. Limes love hot summers and warm climates, with the UK being lime’s most northerly area of habitation. When the British sun does shine, lime is known for the intoxicating aroma of its blossoms, which attract bees who swarm to its sweet nectar. Other insects also love lime trees, and numerous invertebrates feed on their leaves, including many species of caterpillar. Aphids attracted by the heady aromas of lime provide an essential food source for insects such as ladybirds and hoverflies.

During the Second World War lime blossom tea was drunk as a soothing brew, rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Lime wood is easy to work and does not warp, being used for piano keys and soundboards as well as carving and furniture making.

Lime’s heart-shaped leaves sees them symbolically linked to love and fidelity and in Celtic folklore lime trees were associated with fairness and justice.

Status at Cambrian Wildwood: Absent, although we hope to reintroduce in the future.