Genus : Tilia
Synonyms and Common names: Lime, Linden, Tilia vulgaris. Tilia intermedia. Tilia cordata. Tilia platyphylla. Linden Flowers. Linn Flowers. Common Lime. Flores Tiliae. Tilleul. (Tilia cordata and Tilia europa are often grouped together as one species, with Tilia europa being the one usually sold as Lime Flowers, however, Tilia europa is a hybrid, usually, T.cordata crossed with another Lime, probably T. platyphyllos. Tillia europa and cordata have exactly the same properties, so either can be used)
Description and Habitat: Lime is a large deciduous tree believed at one time to have been a dominant tree in English forests. Height can be up to 90 feet tall, and they can live for up to 500 years. Mostly found in woods and cliffs (except limestone). Sometimes Lime forms pure stands of trees, but can usually be found growing with Ash, Hawthorn, Field Maple, Birch, Oak, Wild Cherry and Wych Elm. Lime is moderately tolerant of shade and is found growing in England, Wales, Southern Scotland and Ireland, and in some of Western Europe.
The leaves are heart-shaped with fine teeth on the margins, about 3 in long and almost as wide. They are alternate with rather long, slender petioles (leaf stems). Lime flowers are fragrant pale yellow flowers, flowering in midsummer. Linden seeds require a period of moist, cold dormancy before they will germinate, it is best to plant seeds outside as soon as they ripen. The cultivars are bud-grafted onto seedling rootstock, or it is possible to divide suckers and to propagate by layering.
Parts used: dried flowers
Collection and preparation: Collect the flowers immediately they have flowered, and choose a dry day. Dry in a warm, dark place and keep out of sunlight.
Constituents: Essential oil containing farnsol, mucilage, flavonoids, hesperidin, coumarin fraxoside, vanillin.
Actions: Nervine, anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, astringent, tonic, cholagogue, emollient, expectorant, hypotensive and sedative.
Indications and Therapeutics: Lime flowers are a remedy for colds and other illnesses where sweating is desirable. The relaxant and sedative effects bring relief from nervous tension, indigestion and migraine. Lime flower Infusion is excellent for lowering high blood pressure and keeps the arteries in good condition.
Contraindications: There are no known contraindications for Lime flowers, but the effects of Lime Flower have not been studied thoroughly and its safety for the developing child has not been well established. For this reason, it is recommended that the use of Lime Flower preparations during pregnancy or lactation be avoided.
Preparation and dosage:
Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for around 10 minutes. Use 3 times a day.
Tincture: 1 – 2ml of tincture taken 3 times a day.
Folklore and additional comments:
The honey from the flowers is regarded as the best flavoured and the most valuable in the world, and bees make fine honey from the nectar produced by the fragrant flowers
The wood is especially valuable for carving, being white, close-grained, smooth and tractable when working in minute details. Grindley Gibbons did most of his flower and figure carvings for St. Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, and Chatsworth in Limewood.
It is the lightest wood produced by any of the broad-leaved European trees, and is suitable for many other purposes, as it never becomes worm-eaten. On the Continent it is much used for turnery, sounding boards for pianos, in organ manufacture, as the framework of veneers for furniture, for packing cases, and also for artists' charcoal making and for the fabrication of wood-pulp.
The inner bark when separated from the outer bark in strands makes excellent fibres and coarse matting, chiefly used by gardeners, being light, but strong and elastic it is excellent for making baskets. In Sweden, the inner bark, separated by maceration so as to form a kind of flax, has been employed to make fishing-nets.
The sap of the Lime tree drawn off in the spring affords a higher concentration of sugar than most other trees including walnut and birch.
In Slavic mythology, the belief is held that the Linden tree is sacred, and in many Eastern European countries it is upheld as ‘Holy’, as a result, many villages and towns are named after the Linden.
In Slovenia, the tradition of Lime trees representing places where common decision making or matters of importance are discussed holds with many towns and villages having a Lime tree growing in its centre. For Slovenia, the lime is their national symbol and as a result, has been planted to commemorate numerous historical occasions over the centuries. The oldest of these being over 700 years old.
Equally in Germany where the tradition of planting Limes in towns and villages existed, we can also see in Berlin with the ‘Unter den Linden‘ has had an avenue of Limes growing down it since the 16th Century, representing the cultural heart of the city prior to the second world war.
Throughout the Baltic, the tree is also associated with the goddess Laima who is responsible for the fate of childbirth, marriage and the patron saint of pregnant women. Laima’s relationship comes from the belief that she can take the form of a cuckoo while influencing the fate of those who desire it. For this reason, people, and predominately women, have given sacrifice and prayed under the Lime in the hope of gaining good luck and fertility.
In Celtic and Germanic tradition the Lime is seen to inspire fairness and justice and as a result, evidence was heard beneath a Lime. These traditions have much in common with the Baltic traditions of Lime’s representing meeting places and cultural centres, along with the more gruesome tradition of administering ‘justice’ or sacrifice beneath a Lime!