Small-leaved Lime

©Dinesh Valke

Small-leaved Lime

Scientific name: Tilia cordata
A scarce tree of Central and Southern England, in particular, the Small-leaved Lime can be found in ancient woodland. It is has sweet-smelling flowers in summer and nut-like fruits in autumn.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 25m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The Small-leaved Lime is a large tree of ancient woodland, particularly across Southern England and the Midlands where it has a scattered distribution, but can be abundant. Its sweet-smelling summer flowers attract a huge number of insects looking for nectar, while its leaves are popular with caterpillars of the Lime Hawk moth, among other species. It produces large-winged, nut-like fruits that disperse its seeds by the wind.

How to identify

The Small-leaved Lime has heart-shaped leaves; yellow-green, five-petalled flowers; and small, oval fruits with pointed tips. The three lime trees of the UK are difficult to tell apart. The Small-leaved Lime lives up to its name: it has smaller leaves than the Large-leaved and Common Limes, with patches of tiny, rusty-orange hairs by the veins on their undersides.

Distribution

Widespread, but uncommon, in England and Wales.

Did you know?

Limes are particularly useful trees: the Small-leaved Lime was regularly coppiced for firewood and pole-making; its flowers were used to make a type of tea that was a mild sedative; and the fibres beneath its bark were used to make rope.

How people can help

Our native tree species provide important links in the food chain for many animals, as well as areas for shelter and nesting. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.