Tilia x europaea
Herb: Common Lime
Latin name: Tilia x europaea
Synonyms: Tilia intermedia, Tilia officinarum, Tilia x vulgaris
Family: Tiliaceae (Linden Family)
Medicinal use of Common Lime:Lime flowers are a popular domestic remedy for a number of ailments, especially in the treatment of colds and other ailments where sweating is desirable. A tea made from the fresh or dried flowers is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, hypotensive, laxative and sedative. Lime flower tea is also used internally in the treatment of indigestion, hypertension, hardening of the arteries, hysteria, nervous vomiting or palpitation. The flowers are harvested commercially and often sold in health shops etc. Lime flowers are said to develop narcotic properties as they age and so they should only be harvested when freshly opened. A charcoal made from the wood is used in the treatment of gastric or dyspeptic disturbances and is also made into a powder then applied to burns or sore places.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Not known in a truly wild situation.
Edible parts of Common Lime:Young leaves - raw. Excellent in salads, they are mild and mucilaginous. A refreshing tea is made from the dried flowers. A honey-like fragrance. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity. Flowers - used as a vegetable. A very acceptable chocolate substitute can be made from a paste of the ground-up flowers and immature fruit. Trials on marketing the product failed because the paste is very apt to decompose. Sap - used as a drink or concentrated to make a syrup and used as a sweetener. An edible manna is obtained from the tree. No further details, does this report refer to the sap?
Other uses of the herb:A fibre from the inner bark is used to make mats, shoes, baskets, ropes etc. It is also suitable for cloth. It is harvested from trunks that are 15 - 30cm in diameter. The fibre can also be used for making paper. The stems are harvested in spring or summer, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The outer bark is removed from the inner bark by peeling or scraping. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten in a ball mill. The paper is beige in colour. Wood - soft, white, easily carved. It is very suitable for carving domestic items and small non-durable items. A charcoal made from the wood is used for drawing.
Propagation of Common Lime:Seed - much of the seed produced in Britain is not viable, cut a few seedcases open to see if there is a seed inside. If possible, obtain fresh seed that is ripe but has not as yet developed a hard seed coat and sow it immediately in a cold frame. It may germinate in the following spring though it could take 18 months. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate. It has a hard seed coat, embryo dormancy and a hard coat on the pericarp. All these factors mean that the seed may take up to 8 years to germinate. One way of shortening this time is to stratify the seed for 5 months at high temperatures (10°C at night, up to 30°C by day) and then 5 months cold stratification. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in spring just before the leaves unfurl. Takes 1 - 3 years. Suckers, when formed, can be removed with as much root as possible during the dormant season and replanted immediately.
Cultivation of the herb:Not known in a truly wild situation.
Known hazards of Tilia x europaea:If the flowers used for making tea are too old, they may produce symptoms of narcotic intoxication.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.