Tilia tomentosa Moench

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

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


Common Names

  • European White Lime
  • Silver Lime


  • T. alba Ait., in part
  • T. argentea DC.
  • T. europaea var. alba (Ait.) Loud.


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.


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

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

Tree to 40 m × 2 m dbh, with a neatly domed habit. Bark pale grey, developing flat-topped criss-cross ridges from about 30 years of age. Twigs with a dense felt of grey hairs which persist for a year. Buds with 2 or 3 visible scales, densely brown-felted. Leaves 6–11 × 6–11 cm, orbicular, rarely 3- or 5-lobed, dark green above with stellate hairs mostly shed by maturity, usually white underneath with a dense tomentum of predominantly 8-armed stellate hairs. Stalk with a variably dense felt of white hairs. Marginal teeth with an apiculate tip 0.1–0.8 mm long. Floral bract 5–11.5 × 1.1–2.2 cm, white-felted on one side. Inflorescence drooping, with 4–10 flowers, strongly honey-scented. Staminodes present. Fruit 9–10 × 7–8 mm, ellipsoidal, smooth or mamillate, densely grey-brown-felted; wall thick and woody (Pigott 2012).

Distribution  AlbaniaBulgariaCroatiaGreeceHungary in the south of the country MacedoniaMontenegroRomaniaSerbiaSloveniaTurkey including the western border with Syria Ukraine in the west of the country

Habitat Woodlands, mostly on light calcareous soils

USDA Hardiness Zone 6

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

A variable species in the wild in south-eastern Europe (see under Tilia × juranyana for the putative green-leaved ‘f. virescens’), Silver Lime is represented further north and west by just a few clones, selected for their very white underleaf and neatly parabolic habit at least in youth. Here, they are the most vigorous and largest-growing of the ‘white-leaved limes’. The tree responds to periods of heat and drought by angling its leaves so that the underleaf faces outwards to minimise transpiration; at these times the whole crown turns white, reverting to dark green once rain falls.

In Britain, the species was in James Gordon’s Mile End Nursery in 1767. Two, grafted on Common Lime, survive from many planted in or around 1800 (Loudon 1838) at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, the larger 19 m × 2.05 m dbh in 2012; the famous tree in the paddock next to Tortworth church in Gloucestershire was 34 m × 1.73 m dbh in 2015. Silver Limes grow well as far north as Castle Milk in south-west Scotland [THERE ARE SOME FINE EXAMPLES FURTHER NORTH IN SCOTLAND, EG DOUNE PARK] where a fine avenue lines the southern drive (Tree Register 2018).The tallest measured trees, in warmer continental climates, are 37 m specimens at the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium, (measured 2011) and at Sarrot near Pau, France, (measured 2018). A tree probably of wild origin at Bogat, Hungary, was 2.04 m dbh in 2001 (monumentaltrees.com 2018).

Several selections have been made which epitomise the best characteristics of the cultivated forms. These include:

‘Balaton’, selected at Balatonfured, Hungary, before 1985 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Green Mountain’, introduced to America from Europe before 1990 (Cornell University 2018);

‘Horizontalis’ (Beissner, Schelle & Zabel 1903);

‘Princeton’, selected by the Princeton Nurseries, New Jersey, before 1983 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Sashazam’ (‘Satin Shadow’ TM), selected by the Lake County Nursery, Ohio, before 1990 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Sterling Silver’ (‘Sterling’, ‘Wandell’), selected by Willet N. Wandell in Illinois for its resistance in American to the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica) (Cornell University 2018);

‘Wouter’, selected around 1994 in the Winterswijk lime collection by J. van den Brandhof and named in 2012; a compact tree of slow growth (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).

Trees selected for their narrower habit in youth at least include:

‘American Elite’, selected by Willet N. Wandell in Illinois in 1989 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Brabant’, selected from a tree at Hoeven in Brabant, Netherlands, in 1970 (Santamour & McArdle 1985). The clone has reached 17 m at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in 2017 and at Pine Lodge, Cornwall, in 2014 (Tree Register 2018).

‘Chelsea Sentinel’, selected by Hillier and Sons from a tree in the Royal Hospital at Chelsea which blew down in 1987 (Hillier & Coombes 2002). A 1988 planted at Bute Park, Cardiff, was 17 m tall by 2013 (Tree Register 2018);

‘Doornik’, selected from a tree at Couvreur, Belgium, before 1930 and more recently repropagated under the name ‘Kortrijk’ (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Erecta’, in the 1958-9 catalogue of H. A. Hesse, Weener, West Germany (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Fastigiata’, listed by M.A. Dirr (Dirr 1983);

‘Gray Pillar’, selected in Hungary before 1992 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Nijmegen’, selected by A. Peters before 1980 in the Netherlands (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Petrov’, introduced by the Silva Tarouca Research Institute, Pruhonice, Czech Republic, and named by Obdrzalek & Nohejl in 1994 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Pyramidalis’, in the United States by 1902 (Santamour & McArdle 1985);

‘Rhineland’, selected by the Lappen Tree Nursery, West Germany, in 1970 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Szeleste’, sold by Ton van den Oever, Belgium, from 1982 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013);

‘Van Koolwijk’, selected in 1935 and sold by the Lombarts nursery, Netherlands, from 1940-41; a compact form originally listed (Santamour & McArdle 1985) under Tilia americana – a curious error suggesting that two different trees may be involved here;

‘Zenta Silver’ (‘Zentai Ezüst’), selected in Hungary by G. Schmidt, B. Nagy and M. Jozsa in 1996 (Jablonski & Plietzsch 2013).


This name has been given to a clone propagated in Dutch nurseries and previously sent out as T. tomentosa. Deriving from a tree growing in the village of Hoeven in Brabant, it has a broadly conical crown with a well-developed central stem, which makes it more wind-resistant than the heavily branched form once planted in Britain. It is said to make a good specimen (Dendroflora, No. 7 (1970), pp. 78-9).T. mandshurica Rupr. & Maxim. T. argentea var. mandshurica (Rupr. & Maxim.) Reg. Manchurian Lime. – This is the eastern counterpart of T. tomentosa, a native of N. China, the Russian Far East and Korea. It differs in the coarser toothing of its leaves, the teeth triangular, long-pointed at the apex. The first introduction to Kew, from Booth of Hamburg in 1871, was a failure, for like so many species from continental northeast Asia it started into growth early and was frequently cut by frost. The present tree thrives somewhat better, but does not flower freely.


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