Tilia cordata Mill.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Tilia cordata' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/tilia/tilia-cordata/). Accessed 2019-12-11.


Common Names

  • Small-leaved Lime
  • Little-leaf Linden


  • T. parvifolia Ehrh.
  • T. microphylla Vent.
  • T. ulmifolia Scop.


Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
Diameter (of trunk) at breast height. Breast height is defined as 4.5 feet (1.37 m) above the ground.
(of shoot) Growing out from trunk or major branches.
Plant originating from the cross-fertilisation of genetically distinct individuals (e.g. two species or two subspecies).
Small grains that contain the male reproductive cells. Produced in the anther.
(especially of surface of a leaf) Lower; facing away from the axis. (Cf. adaxial.)


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Tilia cordata' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/tilia/tilia-cordata/). Accessed 2019-12-11.

Tree to 40 m × 4 m dbh. Trunk sometimes with epicormic sprouts; bark grey-brown, with irregular lumpy ridges forming from about 30 years of age. Twigs slender (1.3–3.5 mm thick), shining red at least in sun; sparse stellate hairs are soon shed. Buds reddish, with two scales glabrous except at their margins, one much larger than the other. Leaves 3.5–7 × 3.5–7 cm, suborbicular and asymmetrically cordate at the base, plane; marginal teeth imperfectly regular and often without mucronate tips. Underleaf smooth and usually glaucous-green, with some stellate hairs soon shed; quite large patches of rust-coloured hair persist under the major vein axils. Floral bracts 4–9 × 0.8–1.7 cm, glabrous; stalk 0.6–2.4 cm long. Inflorescence erect and held above the foliage, usually with 5–8 flowers but occasionally with up to 30. Staminodes absent. Fruit small, 6–7 × 4 mm, with a dense cover of brown hairs; fruit-wall not ribbed, fragile (Pigott 2012).

Distribution  ArmeniaAustriaAzerbaijanBelarusBelgiumBosnia and HerzegovinaBulgariaCroatiaCzechiaDenmarkEstoniaFinland In the south of the country FranceGeorgiaGermanyGreeceHungaryItalyLatviaLithuaniaLuxembourgMacedoniaMoldovaMontenegroNetherlandsNorway To 65 degrees north on the coast PolandRomaniaRussia East to central Siberia SerbiaSlovakiaSloveniaSpain In mountains in the north and east Sweden In the south of the country SwitzerlandTurkey West of Istanbul Ukraine and in the south-eastern Crimea United Kingdom England and Wales

Habitat Forests

USDA Hardiness Zone 3

RHS Hardiness Rating H7

Awards AGM

Although pollen deposits suggest that it was the most abundant tree in much of the primeval ‘Wildwood’ in England and Wales, the Small-leaved Lime is now scarce and local as a wild tree and is at its climatic limits in its northernmost strongholds in the Lake District and in Co. Durham. Until the last few decades, it was seldom planted, with occasional trees appearing apparently by accident within avenues and landscaping of Common Lime (Tilia × europaea), the species’ natural hybrid with Broad-leaved Lime (T. platyphyllos). With its small almost birch-like leaves, attractively pale underneath, and its showy erect flowerheads – a featured shared within the genus only by T. mongolica – it is however a strikingly attractive lime and has recently become very popular in the UK both within ‘native’ plantings and in urban settings. The habit is often domed in age, and the trunk is less frequently lost under epicormic sprouts than Common Lime’s. In North America it has been quite widely planted for a long time, as it is more resistant than Basswoods to insect damage.

Many huge and ancient ‘village limes’ in central Europe belong to this species, including ‘Le tilleul de Grange Sauvaget’, Jura, France, 419 cm dbh in 2017 (monumentaltrees.com 2018). The largest of several in Parnham Park, Dorset (277 cm dbh in 2007) was dated by core-sampling to around 1540, and the tallest known example, at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, UK, was 40.2 m tall in 2014 (Tree Register 2018).

As with the other limes commonly planted in Europe and North America, plenty of selections have been named by nurseries but very few of these will be recognisable in the field or demand to be planted for their unique characteristics. A checklist of such clones includes:

‘Betulifolia’, a small-leaved clone represented in the Poort Bulten Arboretum in the Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Debrecen’, a Hungarian selection (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Euclid’, selected by the Boston Parks Department before 1961 for the fine geometry of its crown (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Fairview’, selected by the A. McGill & Son Nursery, Oregon, in 1972 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Jonas’, a selection probably from Czech Republic (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Len Parvin’, a small-leaved selection by Len Parvin from the wild population in the lower Wye Valley, England/Wales (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Lima’, a compact clone sold in Belgium and the Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Lorberg’, sold by Lorberg’s Nursery, Berlin; drought-tolerant (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘June Bride’, selected at the Manbeck Nurseries, Ohio, in 1971 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Major’, a large-leaved clone in the lime collection at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew (Pigott 2012);

‘Merkur’ (‘Mercury, ‘Spath’s Merkur’), selected in Berlin in 1977 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Mieke’, selected at the Winterswijk lime collection in the Netherlands and distributed by 2013 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Morden’, selected for its hardiness at the Morden Research Station, Manitoba, in 1969 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Mullerklein’, from B. Muller Klein’s nursery, Germany (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Nebuzely’, selected from a tree in Nebuzely, Czech Republic, and distributed by 2012 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Niko’, selected at the Winterswijk lime collection in the Netherlands and distributed by 2010 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Olympic’, sold by J. Frank Schmidt & Son, Oregon, from 1970 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Ovalifolium’, an old clone represented in the Winterswijk lime collection (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Roelvo’, selected by M. Roelofsen, Netherlands, in 1979 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Ronald’ (‘Norlin Linden’ TM), selected from a hardy tree growing since 1942 in the Morden Research Station, Manitoba, and sold by the Jeffries Nurseries, Manitoba, from 1983 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Salem’, a vigorous form selected by the Handy Nursery, Oregon, in 1973 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Schonbrunn’, a German selection (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Skjold’ (‘Nordic’), a Scandinavian selection (Royal Horticultural Society 2018);

‘Stewart’, selected by the Princeton Nurseries, New Jersey, before 1980 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Turesi’, selected by the Matt Tures Sons Nursery, Illinois, in 1968 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Van Pelt’, selected by the Van Pelt Nursery, Belgium, before 1962 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Wega’, selected by H.-J. Albrecht in East Berlin in 1989 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Westonbirt Dainty Leaf’ (‘Westonbirt’, ‘Westonbirt Dainty’, ‘Dainty Leaf’), selected at the Westonbirt National Arboretum, Gloucestershire, for its small leaf, slow growth and flowers produced early in life; available from 2001 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).

Another group of selections have been made for their upright narrow habit in youth, which is more or less lost in maturity. These include:

‘Bailey’ (‘Shamrock-Linden’ TM), selected by the Bailey Nurseries, Minnesota, in 1990 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Bicentennial’, selected by the Handy Nursery, Oregon, in 1976 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Bohlje’ (‘Erecta’, ‘Select’, ‘Typ Bohlje’), a small-leaved form selected by the Bruns Nursery, Germany, in 1961 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Chancellor’, selected by the Cole Nursery Company, Ohio, in 1965 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Corzam’ (‘Corinthian’ TM), selected by the Lake County Nursery, Ohio, before 1996 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘De Groot’, selected by the Sheridan Nurseries, Ontario, in 1973 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Dila’, selected by the Lappen Tree Nursery, Germany, in 2007 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Dombrie’, selected by the Drappier nursery, France, in 2010 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Elin’ (‘Linn’), a Scandinavian selection (Royal Horticultural Society 2018);

‘Greenspire’, selected by the Princeton Nursery, New Jersey, in 1961; a seedling of ‘Euclid’ (Santamour & McArdle 1985). A 1978 planting at Oare House in Wiltshire was 21.5 m tall by 2016 (Tree Register 2018). ‘Cordaley’ was selected from ‘Greenspire’ by Ley’s Nursery in Germany in 1977 and may represent the same clone (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Haaren’, selected by the M. van den Oever Nursery, Haaren, Netherlands, in the early 1950s (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Hoogeind Select’, selected by the Hoogeind Laanbomen nursery, Netherlands, in 1997 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Low Window’, sold in the Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Norbert’, selected by Willet N. Wandell, Illinois (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Oldenbelt’, selected by the Bischoff Tulleken nursery, Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Pyramidalis’, the oldest of these clones (Gartenflora 1896);

‘Rancho’, selected by Ed Scanlon and Associates, Ohio, 1961 (Santamour & McArdle 1985); a 1969 planting at Writtle College, Essex, was 19 m x 54 cm dbh in 2017 (Tree Register 2018);

‘Select’, selected by the Cole Nursery Company, Ohio, in 1964; not the same as the ‘Select’ from the Bruns Nursery, Germany (see ‘Bohlje’) (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Savaria’, a Hungarian selection sold in Poland by 2012 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Streetwise’, selected by Hillier and Sons, Hampshire, around 1980 and distributed from 1998 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013)

‘Swedish Upright’, selected in Sweden by Dr Alfred Rehder around 1906; the original tree, planted the Arnold Arboretum, Massachusetts, was only 11 m tall and 4 m wide by 1964 (Wyman 1965), but the example planted probably in 1981 in the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens has grown at a normal rate for the species, reaching 16 m x 54 cm dbh by 2017 (Tree Register 2018).

'Swedish Upright'

Of very slender habit, though with horizontal or drooping branches. It was collected in Sweden in 1906 by Dr Alfred Rehder for the Arnold Arboretum, where the original tree was 35 ft high and 12 ft in spread in 1964 (Wyman, Trees for American Gardens (1965), p. 451).Another selection of narrow habit is ‘Erecta’, said to make a good street-tree even in industrial areas, with rather small, almost orbicular leaves, colouring yellow in the autumn and remaining on the tree until November (Dendroflora, No. 7 (1970), p. 72).T. × flavescens Döll – A putative hybrid between T. cordata and T. americana, described in 1843 from a tree growing at Karlsruhe. The trees distributed by the Späth and Simon-Louis nurseries are of uncertain origin. They are near to T. cordata but with larger leaves.


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