Lime TreeBotanical Name: Tilia Europoea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Tiliaceae
Synonyms: Tilia vulgaris. Tilia intermedia. Tilia cordata. Tilia platyphylla. Linden Flowers. Linn Flowers. Common Lime. Flores Tiliae. Tilleul.
Parts Used: The flowers, the charcoal.
Habitat: Northern Temperate Zone, especially British Isles.
Description: This tree will grow to 130 feet in height and when in bloom perfumes its whole neighbourhood. The leaves are obliquely heart-shaped, dark green above, paler below, from 2 12 to 4 inches long and sharply toothed. The yellowish-white flowers hang from slender stalks in flattened clusters. They have five petals and five sepals. The original five stamens have each developed a cluster, and there is a spoon-shaped false petal opposite each true one.
Linden Tea is much used on the Continent, especially in France, where stocks of dried lime-flowers are kept in most households for making 'Tilleul.'
The honey from the flowers is regarded as the best flavoured and the most valuable in the world. It is used exclusively in medicine and in liqueurs.
The wood is useful for small articles not requiring strength or durability, and where ease in working is wanted: it is specially valuable for carving, being white, close-grained, smooth and tractable in working, and admits of the greatest sharpness in minute details. Grinley Gibbons did most of his flower and figure carvings for St. Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, and Chatsworth in Lime wood.
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 packingcases, and also for artists' charcoal making and for the fabrication of wood-pulp.
The inner bark or bast when detached from the outer bark in strands or ribands makes excellent fibres and coarse matting, chiefly used by gardeners, being light, but strong and elastic. Fancy baskets are often made of it. 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, drawn off in the spring, affords a considerable quantity of sugar.
The foliage is eaten by cattle, either fresh or dry. The leaves and shoots are mucilaginous and may be employed in poultices and fomentations.
Constituents: The flowers contain a fragrant, volatile oil, with no colour, tannin, sugar, gum and chlorophyll.
The bark contains a glucoside, tilicin, and a neutral body, tiliadin.
The leaves exude a saccharine matter having the same composition as the manna of Mount Sinai.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Lime-flowers are only used in infusion or made into a distilled water as household remedies in indigestion or hysteria, nervous vomiting or palpitation. Prolonged baths prepared with the infused flowers are also good in hysteria.
In the Pyrenees they are used to soothe the temporary excitement caused by the waters, and M. Rostan has used them with success against spasms. The flowers of several species of Lime are used.
Some doctors prefer the light charcoal of lime wood to that of the poplar in gastric or dyspeptic disturbances, and its powder for burns or sore places.
If the flowers used for making the tisane are too old they may produce symptoms of narcotic intoxication.