Tilia platyphyllos Scop.

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

Recommended citation
'Tilia platyphyllos' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/tilia/tilia-platyphyllos/). Accessed 2019-12-08.



  • T. europaea var. á L.
  • T. officinarum Crantz, in part


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.
(subsp.) Taxonomic rank for a group of organisms showing the principal characters of a species but with significant definable morphological differentiation. A subspecies occurs in populations that can occupy a distinct geographical range or habitat.
(syn.) (botanical) An alternative or former name for a taxon usually considered to be invalid (often given in brackets). Synonyms arise when a taxon has been described more than once (the prior name usually being the one accepted as correct) or if an article of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has been contravened requiring the publishing of a new name. Developments in taxonomic thought may be reflected in an increasing list of synonyms as generic or specific concepts change over time.
IUCN Red List conservation category: ‘facing a high risk of extinction in the wild’.
(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 platyphyllos' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/tilia/tilia-platyphyllos/). Accessed 2019-12-08.

A large tree, to 40 m × 4 m dbh, of domed habit; trunk very seldom with epicormic sprouts. Bark brownish grey, developing longitudinal square-cracking ridges after about 30 years. Twigs 2–4 mm thick, often hairy and often reddish in sun. Buds with 3 exposed scales (2 in subsp. corinthiaca), glabrous. Leaves 6–11 × 6-10 cm, suborbicular and often with drooping sides; upper surface dark green, slightly rugose and sometimes with a sparse cover of simple hairs; underside mid-green, often with a cover of simple hairs and always with small denser patches of brownish hairs under the vein axils. Petiole sometimes with simple hairs. Marginal teeth with short mucronate tips 0.4–1 mm long. Floral bracts 6-11 × 1.1–2.2 cm, sometimes downy. Inflorescence drooping, with just 3 flowers or with as many as 7. Flowers large (12–17 mm diameter), saucer-shaped. Staminodes absent. Fruit 9–12 × 8–10 mm, obovoid, with five ribs, covered in dense white tomentum; wall thick and woody (Pigott 2012).

Distribution  AlbaniaAustriaBelgiumBosnia and HerzegovinaBulgariaCroatiaCzechiaDenmarkFranceGermanyGreeceHungaryItalyLuxembourgMacedoniaMoldovaMontenegroNetherlandsPoland In mountains in the south RomaniaSerbiaSlovakiaSloveniaSpain In mountains in the north and east Sweden At one site on the south-east coast SwitzerlandTurkey Including the Mediterranean border with Syria Ukraine In mountains in the south-west United Kingdom England and Wales (rare).

Habitat Woodlands

USDA Hardiness Zone 4

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

Awards AGM (for 'Rubra')

Donald Pigott (2012) distinguishes four subspecies of the Broad-leaved Lime: subsp. cordifolia from northern, western and north-eastern Europe, subsp. platyphyllos from central Europe, subsp. pseudorubra from Mediterranean Europe and Turkey (including Greece), and subsp. corinthiaca which has smaller foliage and is confined to Greece; he also suggests that the population from Sicily may be distinct. The four subspecies are best differentiated by their decreasing overall hairiness, but Pigott admits that they all form parts of a continuous population which has spread northwards in the wake of the last glaciation. Trees from northern Europe, including England and Wales, (subsp. cordifolia) are easily recognised from the quite long and unbranched hairs which thinly but evenly cover the young shoots and the leaves on both surfaces, plus their stalks. Molecular analysis has endorsed the assumption that Tilia platyphyllos is distinct and not closely related to any other surviving lime (Pigott 2012).

Many of the ancient ‘village limes’ of central Europe belong to Tilia platyphyllos. These include the Heeder Linde at Heede, 4.9 m dbh in 2016, and the Tanzlinde Schenklengsfeld, planted in 760 according to a stone at the base, whose fragmentary trunk is about 5.5 m across (both in Germany) (monumentaltrees.com 2018). In England and Wales, the Broad-leaved Lime is rare as a wild tree and is often confined to limestone cliffs, but a few old examples are immense, including two hollow pollards at Downton Castle in Herefordshire, the larger 2.86 m dbh in 2012 (Tree Register 2018). Unlike the Small-leaved Lime (T. cordata), the species is quite able to set fertile seed in Britain’s short cool summers, but seedlings are equally vulnerable to grazing pressure. The Broad-leaved Lime is marginally the taller-growing of these two species, reaching 41.5m at Schloss Birstein in Germany in 2015 (monumentaltrees.com 2018) and in parkland at Grove House in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, in 2000 (Tree Register 2018). As a vigorous, tough, clean-limbed tree with richly scented flowers opening quite early in the season, it has long been a popular ornamental and is also much planted in North America.

As is the case with the other commonly grown lime species, many selections have been made for vigour or shapely habit which are not identifiable in the field and which do not merit individual entries in this account. The first of these was ‘Rubra’ (‘Corallina’), extant by 1770 (Weston 1770) but considered by Loudon (1838) as naturally occurring rather than a specific clone. The name, at least, has persisted in the literature to the present day (and ‘Rubra’ was indeed awarded an AGM by the RHS in 2002), but the distinguishing features (red winter twigs and a neatly upright habit in youth) are common to most if not all typical Broad-leaved Limes in Britain. ‘Dakvorm’, tentatively accepted as a valid cultivar name by the RHS and sold by Brian Lewington, East Sussex, early in the 20th century (Royal Horticultural Society 2018), probably simply refers to limes (of any kind) trained to a spreading ‘roof’ shape. A checklist of other named clones, which are reliably vigorous, shapely or healthy but are probably not distinctive enough to merit special planting, would include:

‘Agi’, a slow-growing form selected in Hungary by 2012 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Blechiana’, named in the Kew Hand-list of Trees and Shrubs (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1895), but possibly confused with the ‘Spectabilis’ described here under Tilia americana (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Cochleata’, with hooded leaves – a feature common to most Tilia platyphyllos in north-west Europe (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Corylifolia’, with leaves shaped like a hazel’s (Beissner, Schelle & Zabel 1903);

‘Fenris’, selected in Denmark after 1990 for its vigour (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Grandifolia’, an old large-leaved selection last listed in the Plant Finder in 1998 (Royal Horticultural Society 2018);

‘Hoffmanniana’, with small leaves (Schneider 1912);

‘Latifolia’, with broad leaves (Beissner, Schelle & Zabel 1903);

‘Insignis’, sold by Kris Michielsen, Belgium, by 2010 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘K3’, selected at the Corvinus University of Budapest, around 1990 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Kamminga’, grown in the Winterswijk lime collection, Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Kavaleren’, selected in the Netherlands before 2005 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Kavkaiana’, selected from a tree at Pruhonice Park, Czech Republic (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Louisa Point’, selected by the Ton van den Oever nursery, Netherlands, in 1990, for its compact globular habit (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Maraczi’, selected in Ungarn, Hungary by 2012 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Naarden’, selected in Naarden, Netherlands, in 1980 for its disease-resistance and long period in leaf (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Paul Kruger’, selected at the city of Arnhem municipal nursery, Netherlands, in 1993 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Sargavesszeju’, selected in Poland by 2012 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Select’, sold by Bartels Plants, Michigan, from 2001 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Street Parade’, selected by Hilliers Nurseries for street planting (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Tahi’, sold by the Tahi nursery, Hungary, in 2013 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Zetten’, selected by the Conbinatie Mauritz nursery, Netherlands, in 1992 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).

Numerous selections have also been made for their relatively narrow, upright habit. These will all tend to broaden and grow less regular in maturity. The first named form was probably ‘Pyramidalis’, described from a tree in the Muskau Arboretum (Petzold & Kirchner 1864), for which ‘Fastigiata’ (listed by Rehder, (Rehder 1927–1940) may be a synonym. ‘Fastigiata’ has been quite widely planted in the UK and had reached 14.5 m × 64 cm dbh by 2017 at Writtle College, Essex (Tree Register 2018). A checklist of similar selections includes:

‘Agnes’, selected in Ungarn, Hungary (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Delft’, selected in 1956 from a city planting in Delft, the Netherlands and sold from the Oudenbosch Arboretum from 1965 (Santamour & McArdle 1985). The habit is narrow and the leaves stay green late into autumn. A young tree grows in the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens (Tree Register 2018);

‘Flamme de Vercors’, sold by the Guillot Bourne nursery, Jarcieu, France (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Herziana’, selected by the Konrad Herz nursery, Gelsenkirchen, Germany before 2007 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Louisa Life’, from Ton van den Oever Nurseries, Netherlands, 2002 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Louisa Victory Fist’, from Ton van den Oever Nurseries, Netherlands, 1990 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Örebro’ Selected from a tree in a park at Örebro, Sweden, and sold by K.A. Lundstrom, Sweden, by 1939 (Koppeschaar 1939). A 1969 planting at Writtle College, Essex, was 15 m x 51 cm dbh in 2017 (Tree Register 2018);

‘Prince’s Street’, with bright red winter shoots, selected by Hillier and Sons (Hillier and Sons 2018);

‘Rathaus’ (‘City Hall’), from the Lappen Tree Nursery, Germany, 2009 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Streetwise’, selected by Hillier and Sons in the early 1980s and sold from 1998 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013). Hilliers also selected a Tilia cordata ‘Streetwise’ (q.v.);

‘Zelzate’, selected by the De Martelaer nursery, Belgium, before 2005 for its compact growth (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).


Common Names
Golden-twigged Lime


A clone with shoots yellow in sun (green in shade) rather than red (or grey). The example in the 1890’s lime collection at Alexandra Park, Hastings, East Sussex, 107 cm dbh in 2016 (Tree Register 2018), was only recognised as this cultivar (and as a grafted tree) by the author after it was cut back and the vigorous sprouts from above the graft provided a contrast in colour to those from below it; this is not a very showy clone. Other examples include one planted in 1888 as ‘Aurantia’ in the Glasnevin National Botanic Garden, Dublin, 25 m × 102 cm dbh in 2018, and another at Ryston Hall in Norfolk, purchased from Späth in 1911 and 16 m × 94 cm dbh in 2008 (Tree Register 2018).

‘Aurea Nova’ was listed by L. Beissner et al. (1903) as probably distinct from ‘Aurea’.

‘Handsworth’, probably originating at the Handsworth Nursery at Sheffield and once grown at Kew, was described as having yellow-green twigs (Bean 1914).

‘Pyramidalis Aurea’ (Beissner, Schelle & Zabel 1903) presumably combined yellow twigs with an upright habit in youth.

‘Mayday’ (Vitis-Idaea nursery, Boelenslaan, Netherlands, 2011) is a contemporary yellow-twigged selection (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).


A dwarf, rounded form named as a cultivar in 1954 (Boom 1954). The original plant in the Wageningen Arboretum in the Netherlands grew about 4.5 m tall after 40 years (Bean 1914). Other dwarf clones include:

‘Belvedere’, found as a witch broom in an old one tree at the Belvedere of the Prague Castle (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Dimond’ and ‘Moylinny’, found in a nursery in Moylinny, Co. Antrim, by P.W.J. Dimond around 1982 (Santamour & McArdle 1985); both clones had grown to 3 m tall at the Castlewellan National Arboretum in Co. Down by 2015 (Tree Register 2018);

‘Pannonia’, found by M. Barabits at Sopron, Hungary, around 1985 and sold by the Bömer nursery, Zundert, Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).

f. Laciniata Group

Common Names
Cut-leaved Lime

‘Laciniata’ was first described in the 1830s by J. C. Loudon (1838). A rather slender and slow-growing very floriferous tree (but ultimately to 26 m at Drumkilbo, Perth and Kinross (Tree Register 2018), its leaves are small and variously dissected; no two leaves are the same shape, and the effect is delicate and attractive.

‘Filicifolia Nova’ is a variant whose leaves tend to be less deeply dissected (Bean 1914), while those of ‘Aspleniifolia Nova’ are described as more deeply cut. This is another old clone, sold by the Baumann Brothers Nursery in France from 1838, but most authorities follow Bean (1914) in presuming that the cultivar commonly planted in gardens through the 20th century is ‘Laciniata’.

A variant in Irish Gardens was described by Alan Mitchell (Mitchell 1974) as both cut-leaved and variegated; one was recorded by Mitchell at the Westonbirt National Arboretum as 15 m × 32 cm dbh in 1967 (Tree Register 2018). The name ‘Aspleniifolia Variegata’ is used for these trees by the Tree Register of Ireland, but there does not seem to be an original source for this name. ‘Donovan’s Filigree’, listed as an unchecked name by the RHS Plant Finder, may be a more recent sale name for this sub-group.

Another variant has very broad, fasciated, yellow major veins to its twisted and shredded leaves; a tree planted in the mid-20th century by the late Maurice Mason at Talbot Manor in Norfolk was 12 m × 37 cm dbh in 2008, and there was a much younger 8 m example at Common Farm, Semer, Suffolk, in 2016 (Tree Register 2018).

Recent named clones within this Group include:

‘Barocco’, sold by André Charlier, Belgium, by 2005; cut leaves with some yellow spotting (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Capricio’ (sic.), also sold by André Charlier, with relatively large dissected leaves (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Eniapseth’, again sold by André Charlier, with slightly variegated cut leaves (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Erkegem’, found in 1989 in the park of the Chateau d’Erkegem in Belgium, has a clear creamy-white variegation to its small, cut leaves. It was sold by Kris Michielsen in Belgium from 1999 but some authorities have suggested it is a clone of Tilia cordata (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Henryk’, a dwarf cut-leaved clone found by Bronislaw Artur Szmit as a witch’s broom in Poland in the late 1990s (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Mercedes’, another clone sole by André Charlier, Belgium, by 2010, with a weak and unstable variegation (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Pepi’ (De Martelaer nursery, Netherlands, before 2010) was found as a witch’s broom on ‘Laciniata’ and is a dwarf tree with drooping shoots (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Stephanie’, once again sold by André Charlier, Belgium, has an irregular yellow variegation in the leaf’s centre (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).


Branches steeply ascending (T. p. f. fastigiata Rehd.; T. p. pyramidalis Hort., not Schneid.).

'Rubra' ('Corallina') Red-twigged Lime

Twigs red in winter. Leaves downy beneath (T. europaea var. rubra West.; T. e. var. corallina Ait.; T. rubra DC., in Cat. Pl. Monspel. (1813), but not T. rubra DC. in Prodr. (1825); T. mollis var. corallina Spach).Red-twigged forms of T. platyphyllos occur in the wild, probably throughout the range of the species, but the cultivated plants are propagated by grafting or layering, and may represent an old nursery clone. Examples are: Garnston Manor, Watford, 70 × 10{3/4} ft (1974); Linton Park, Kent, 80 × 9 ft (1972); Melbury, Dorset, 72 × 10{1/2} ft (1971).


A form with twisted young shoots. A graft of the original still grows at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1972.12987), and was 21 m × 58 cm dbh in 2010 (Tree Register 2018); it is no longer a striking plant.

var. obliqua (Host) Simonkai

T. obliqua Host

Leaves obliquely truncate at the base, larger than normal, almost glabrous beneath. Floral bracts stalked. This is said to be common in gardens in Central Europe, and may be a cultivar.

var. vitifolia (Host) Simonkai

T. vitifolia Host

Leaves obscurely three-lobed, rather like those of Acer rufinerve in shape, sparsely hairy beneath. This is apparently little known in the wild and may be a cultivar. There is an example at Kew measuring 54 × 4{1/2} ft (1967).T. caucasica Rupr. T. rubra DC. in Prodromus (1825), at least in part, not DC. in Cat. Hort. Monspel. (1813); T. rubra subsp. caucasica (Rupr.) V. Engler; T. dasystyla sens. Rehd., in part, not Stev. – Very near to the southeastern race of T. platyphyllos (subsp. pseudo-rubra), which it resembles in having the leaves glabrous beneath except for brownish axillary tufts, but differing in their marginal teeth, which have slender tips which are as long as, or even longer than the body of the tooth. The leaves are glossy above, rounded to slightly cordate at the base, about as wide as long. Native of the Caucasus, the Crimea and the mountains of northern Anatolia. It attains a height of over 100 ft in the wild.The true species was distributed by Späth’s nursery and is probably in cultivation as T. dasystyla, which indeed would be the correct name for the species if T. dasystyla Stev. (1831) and T. caucasica (1869) were considered to be conspecific.Closely allied to T. caucasica are: T. begoniifolia Stev. from the Caspian forests of Iran and bordering parts of Russia, with leaves usually longer than wide, and differently shaped fruits; and T. multiflora Ledeb., from western Transcaucasia, chiefly differing in the blunter teeth of the leaves and the many-flowered inflorescence (with up to twenty flowers). Plants distributed as T. begoniifolia in the last century were probably not true, but this species is now in cultivation in the Hillier Arboretum near Romsey. It was introduced by Roy Lancaster from Iran in 1972. There is no record of T. multiflora in cultivation.T. dasystyla Stev. T. rubra var. dasystyla (Stev.) Schneid.; T. rubra subsp. caucasica var. typica f. dasystyla (Stev.) V. Engler – An endemic of the Crimea, mainly in the southern part. The main point of difference from T. caucasica is that the style is densely hairy, almost woolly. There are other differences however; the leaves are downy beneath, at least on the main veins, and the tips of the leaf-teeth are shorter. It is uncertain if the true species is in cultivation. The tree originally distributed as T. dasystyla is T. × euchlora and others are probably T. caucasica.


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