Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Tree of the month: Large-leaved lime

Posted: June 24, 2024 at 11:24 am Author: Sam Roberts

Each month we’re going to bring you a profile of one of the UK native tree species being planted in the Silk Wood Community Planting Project - first up is the large-leaved lime.

Rarest of the UK’s native lime trees, it has heart-shaped, furry, large leaves which can grow up to 12cm. During summer, it produces five-petal green-yellow flowers, which were used as a substitute to tea leaves during WWII when normal supplies were scarce.

Large-leaved lime

The wood of the lime is hard and doesn’t warp or splinter – so an ideal material for furniture and instruments – it’s even used for piano keys today.

It’s a fantastic tree for wildlife and supports many species that feed specifically on lime – including the caterpillar of the lime hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae), and the lime nail gall mite (Eriophyes tiliae).

Large-leaved lime

Despite being microscopic, you can easily see signs of this mite it in the form of 5-8mm long pointed tubes sticking out the tops of the leaves. These are formed by the mite secreting a chemical which forms the gall, before feeding on the sap which lines the inside of these structures.

Thankfully, it doesn’t hurt the tree, and is something to look for during the summer months – but where do you think the gall gets its name? Could it be that they look like nails that have been hammered into the leaves, or could they be fingertips with red nail varnish?

Large-leaved lime

Either way this is a great addition to the Silk Wood community woodland and will help bolster the number of these scarcer native lime trees in the UK – alongside the wildlife that depends on them.

You too can be a part of Westonbirt's story! Every contribution goes towards vital tree conservation efforts, ensuring this natural wonder continues to inspire families for years to come. Donate today and become a champion for Westonbirt and the community groups it supports...