Lime

Tilia x europaea

About

The Common Lime is the UK's tallest broadleaf tree and is a natural hybrid between the Large-leaved and Small-leaved Limes. It will tolerate a wide variety of conditions so is commonly planted in parks and along roadsides, lining avenues with its impressive shade. Aphids feed on the leaves of the Common Lime, producing sticky 'dew' (remnants of their meal) which drops on to anything below - cars, pavements, people... Its sweet-smelling summer flowers attract a huge number of insects looking for nectar, especially bees. It produces large, winged seeds which are dispersed by the wind.

Look out for red nail galls on the leaves of Lime which look like nails that have been hammered through the leaf from underneath. These are caused by a small insect called a gall mite (there are many different ones, the one in the photograph is Eriophyes tiliae). Initially, the mite feeds on sap on the underside of the leaf. The leaf responds to chemicals the insect gives off and creates the gall which the mite then uses to live and feed inside.

How to identify

The three limes are very similar and often difficult to tell apart. The Common Lime can be recognised by the abundant twiggy suckers around the base of the trunk. It has heart-shaped leaves and yellow-green flowers that appear in summer.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The green space and plants in our towns and gardens can provide habitats for all kinds of wildlife. Try planting native shrubs and trees to encourage nesting birds, feeding mammals and invertebrates into your backyard. To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Lime
Latin name
Tilia x europaea
Category
Trees and shrubs
Statistics
Height: up to 40m
Conservation status
Common.