Tilia

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Tilia
Missing image
Tiliacordata1web.jpg
Tilia cordata


Tilia cordata
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Malvales
Family:Malvaceae
Genus:Tilia
Species

About 30; see text

Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees, native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in Asia (where the greatest species diversity is found), Europe and eastern North America; it is absent from western North America. Under the old Cronquist classification system, this genus was placed in the family Tiliaceae, but genetic research by the APG has resulted in the incorporation of this family into the Malvaceae.

Tilia leaf
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Tilia leaf

The trees are generally called linden in North America, and lime in Britain. Both names are derived from the Germanic root lind. The modern forms in English derive from linde or linne in Anglo Saxon and old Norse, and in Britain the word morphed more recently to the modern British form lime. In the United States, the modern German name linden, from the same root, became more common, partly to avoid confusion with any other uses of the name. Neither the name nor the tree is in any way related to the citrus fruit called "lime" (Citrus aurantifolia). Another widely-used common name used in North America is Basswood, derived from bast, the name for the inner bark (see Uses, below).

Tilia species are large deciduous trees, reaching typically 20-40m tall, with oblique-cordate leaves 6-20cm across, and are found through the north temperate regions. The exact number of species is subject to considerable uncertainty, as many or most of the species will hybridise readily, both in the wild and in cultivation; the following list comprises those most widely accepted.

Species
Hybrids and cultivars
  • Tilia x euchlora (T. dasystyla x T. platyphyllos)
  • Tilia x europaea Common Lime (T. cordata x T. platyphyllos)
  • Tilia x petiolaris (T. tomentosa x T. ?)
  • Tilia 'Flavescens' (T. americana x T. cordata)
  • Tilia 'Moltkei' (hybrid, unknown origin)
  • Tilia 'Orbicularis' (hybrid, unknown origin)
  • Tilia 'Spectabilis' (hybrid, unknown origin)

Uses

The tree produces a fragrant and nectar-producing flowers, the medicinal herb Lime Blossom. They are very important honey plants for beekeepers, producing a very pale but richly flavoured honey. The flowers are also used for herbal tea. T. cordata is the preferred species for medical use; having a high concentration of active compounds. The leaf buds and young leaves are also edible raw. The foliage of lime is eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Lime Hawk-moth and Coxcomb Prominent.

The timber of lime trees is soft and easily worked. It is known in the trade as basswood, particularly in North America. This name originates from the inner fibrous bark of the tree, known as bast (Old English language). Fibre was obtained from the younger wood of the tree.

The lime tree is the national emblem of Slovenia, where it is called lipa.

See also

de:Linden (Botanik) eo:Tilio fr:Tilleul it:Tilia nl:Lindeboom pl:Lipa (drzewo) sv:Lind tr:Ihlamur

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