1. Family: Malvaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Tilia L.
      1. Tilia platyphyllos Scop.

        Despite the common name, lime trees (of the genus Tilia) are not related to the citrus fruit we know as a lime. All European species of Tilia are interfertile, meaning they can breed with each other, and natural hybrids are common, leading to difficulties in their identification. Large-leaved lime is one of the parents of the natural hybrid Tilia × europaea, which is widely cultivated and used as a street tree. Lime trees have fragrant flowers that are visited by bees.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    A giant among European trees, large-leaved lime can grow up to 35 m tall.

    Despite the common name, lime trees (of the genus Tilia) are not related to the citrus fruit we know as a lime. All European species of Tilia are interfertile, meaning they can breed with each other, and natural hybrids are common, leading to difficulties in their identification. Large-leaved lime is one of the parents of the natural hybrid Tilia × europaea, which is widely cultivated and used as a street tree. Lime trees have fragrant flowers that are visited by bees.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Tilia platyphyllos is native to central and southern Europe (including Great Britain, where it is possibly only native in woods on calcareous soils). It is also frequently planted in parks and gardens.

    Description

    Overview: Large-leaved lime trees grow up to 35 m tall, with grey, finely fissured or ribbed bark. The young twigs are hairy. 

    Leaves:  Leaves are usually 6-12 cm long and hairy on the underside, especially on the veins, and have a sharply toothed margin and heart-shaped base.

    Flowers: Flowers are fragrant, borne in groups of 2-6, and bisexual, with five free sepals and five free, yellowish petals. Each flower has numerous stamens (male parts) that are more or less fused into five bundles. Each ovary has five compartments, each of which contains two ovules. Each flower has a single, hairless style (female part).

    Fruits:  The fruit is a strongly ribbed nut containing 1-3 seeds.

    Uses

    Large-leaved lime is cultivated as an ornamental in parks and gardens, although not as commonly as Tilia × europaea (common lime).

    Lime wood is pale and soft and cuts cleanly; it has been used by wood-carvers since the Middle Ages. The wood is strong but prone to decay when damp, so has limited use as a building material.

    Young leaves can be eaten as salad, and flowers have long been used in continental Europe to make a tea believed to have a calming effect. Lime flower tea is also used widely to ease coughs. Lime flowers are a rich source of nectar and attract bees, wasps, flies and moths. 

    Millennium Seed Bank: Saving seeds

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Stored seeds of Tilia platyphyllos behave in an orthodox manner (meaning the seeds will survive the drying and freezing process), and two collections are held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

    See Kew's Seed Information Database for further information on Tilia platyphyllos seeds

    Cultivation

    Many cultivated forms and cultivars have arisen from Tilia platyphyllos but few are available commercially. Tilia platyphyllos 'Pendula' has spreading branches and pendant (hanging) branchlets. Tilia platyphyllos 'Rubra' has reddish twigs in winter and has been given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society.

    This species at Kew

    Kew has one of the main collections of lime trees ( Tilia sp.) in Europe. Large-leaved lime can be seen growing in the area between Kew's Temperate House and Victoria Gate.

    Pressed and dried specimens of Tilia platyphyllos are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. The details of some of these, including images, can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    Specimens of the wood and bark of large-leaved lime are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Distribution
    United Kingdom
    Ecology
    Woodlands on calcareous soils.
    Conservation
    Common and widely cultivated.
    Hazards

    None known.

    [KSP]
    Use
    Ornamental, timber, wood-carving.

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Corse, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Yugoslavia

    Introduced into:

    Great Britain, Ireland

    Common Names

    English
    Large-leaved lime

    Tilia platyphyllos Scop. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Ball, J. [s.n.], Czechoslovakia K000687767
    Ball, J. [3], Europe K000687768
    Wagner, J. [233], Hungary K000687727
    Wagner, J. [163], Hungary K000687755
    Wagner, J. [166], Hungary K000687757
    Wagner, J. [244], Hungary K000701174
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687721
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687723
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687722
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687725
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687724
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687728
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687730
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687726
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687729
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687731
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687732
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687733
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687734
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687735
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687736
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687737
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687738
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687739
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687740
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687753 Unknown type material
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687754 Unknown type material
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687756
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687758
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687759
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687760
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687761
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687762 Unknown type material
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687763
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687784
    s.coll. [s.n.] K000687783
    Sentner, O. [848], Bosnia-Herzegovina K000687764
    Zahlbruckner, J.B. [s.n.], Europe K000687765
    Zahlbruckner, J.B. [s.n.], Europe K000687766
    Zahlbruckner, J.B. [s.n.], Europe K000687769
    Zahlbruckner, J.B. [s.n.], Europe K000687787
    Hippe, E. [s.n.], Germany K000687785
    Hippe, E. [s.n.], Germany K000687786

    First published in Fl. Carniol., ed. 2, 1: 373 (1771)

    Accepted by

    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.

    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2012). Tilia platyphyllos. Published on the Internet by the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Pigott, D. (2005). Lime. Sage Press, East Sussex.
    • Mabey, R. (1997). Flora Britannica. Chatto & Windus, London.
    • Muir, N. (1984). A Survey of the Genus Tilia. The Plantsman 5: 234.
    • Bean, W. J. (1980). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles, Volume IV (Ri-Z). John Murray, London.
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.

    Sources

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0