Common Lime (Tilia x europaea) is a sweet-scented blossoming tree that brings a generous crop of nectar for bees and lime-flavoured honey for beekeepers every summer.
All lime trees in the species Tilia are unrelated to the species of tree that produces lime fruit (Citrus aurantifolia).
Common lime trees grow up to 40 m. The bark is smooth with a thick, fibrous texture and the leaves are large, dark green and heart-shaped with a paler underside. The tree blossoms in small clusters of creamish yellow flowers, which are heavily scented and attractive to bees. The fruit are oval-shaped and ribbed with pointed tips.
Deciduous woodland, hedgerows, scrub.
Parts used for food
Flowers and leaves.
Spring to Autumn.
The flowers and leaves make a pleasantly soothing herbal tea. Dried lime flowers were once stocked in many French households to make Tilleul.1
The flowers also flavour liqueurs, lemonade and cordial.2 The leaves can be picked for salads and sandwiches.3
Mature lime leaves were dried into a food supplement and used as a nutritious gruel during the occupation of France in the second world war.4
- Lime flower & himalayan balsam vitamin water.
- Fragrant linden blossom sun cake.
- Lime leaves stuffed with bacon, barley and lentils.
Herbal medicine uses
Lime leaves have been used as a herbal remedy since ancient times. The leaves were said to increase urination, regulate menstrual cycles, dissolve blood clots, cure boils, treat wounds in the mouth, and relieve swollen feet.5 Lime sap was once used as a cure for baldness.5
Lime wood has been used to make toys, instruments and household utensils.5
There are few known side effects of using common lime in food and medicine, but moderation is always advised. Seek advice from a medical professional before using the tree as a herbal remedy.
The safety of consuming or using lime tree products during pregnancy or when breast feeding has not been sufficiently established and, therefore, it’s best avoided.
About the authorRobin Harford is a plant-based forager, ethnobotanical researcher, and wild food educator. He is the author of Edible and Medicinal Wild Plants of Britain and Ireland.
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- Grieve, M. M. (1998) A Modern Herbal. 3rd edition. London: Tiger Books International, PLC.
- Wyse Jackson, P. (2013) Ireland’s Generous Nature: The Past and Present Uses of Wild Plants in Ireland. St. Louis, MO: Missouri Botanical Garden Press.
- Facciola, S. (1998) Cornucopia II: A Source Book of Edible Plants. Vista, CA: Kampong Publications.
- Couplan, F. (1998) The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America. New Canaan, Conn.: Keats Pub.
- Cleene, M. D. & Lejeune, M. C. (2003) Compendium of Symbolic and Ritual Plants in Europe: Vol I Trees & Shrubs/Vol II Herbs. Ghent: mens & cultuur uitgevers n.v.