Tilia europea-Lime flowers
Other names: Lime Blossoms, Linden flowers, Tilia, linden, Common Lime,T. x. europaea, L. T. intermedia, T. officinarum, Flores Tiliae, Tilleul, Tilia platyphylla, Tilia intermedia
Habitat: Europe, including Britain.
Lime flowers are a popular domestic remedy for a number of ailments, especially in the treatment of colds and other ailments where sweating is desirable. A tea made from the fresh or dried flowers is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, hypotensive, laxative and sedative. Lime flower tea is also used internally in the treatment of indigestion, hypertension, hardening of the arteries, hysteria, nervous vomiting or palpitation. The flowers are harvested commercially and often sold in health shops etc. Lime flowers are said to develop narcotic properties as they age and so they should only be harvested when freshly opened. A charcoal made from the wood is used in the treatment of gastric or dyspeptic disturbances and is also made into a powder then applied to burns or sore places.
Description of Lime Flowers:
Tilia x europea, lime flowers come from a deciduous Tree growing to 35 m (114ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
Cultivation of Lime Flowers:
Prefers a good moist loamy alkaline to neutral soil but succeeds on slightly acid soils. Grows poorly on any very dry or very wet soil. Succeeds on poorer soils than T. platyphyllos. Tolerates considerable exposure. A very valuable bee plant. The flowers are toxic to bees. A food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species. This tree is frequently infested by aphis, which cover the ground and the leaves with a sticky honeydew. Although a hybrid species, it does produce fertile seed in Britain. Lime trees tend to hybridise freely if other members of the genus are growing nearby. If growing plants from seed it is important to ensure the seed came from a wild source or from an isolated clump of the single species. Easily transplanted, even when quite large, trees up to 60 years old have been moved successfully. Can be coppiced, the tree produces suckers very freely. Grows best in a woodland situation, young plants tolerate a reasonable level of side shade. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Propagation of Lime Flowers:
Seed – much of the seed produced in Britain is not viable, cut a few seedcases open to see if there is a seed inside. If possible, obtain fresh seed that is ripe but has not as yet developed a hard seed coat and sow it immediately in a cold frame. It may germinate in the following spring though it could take 18 months. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate. It has a hard seed coat, embryo dormancy and a hard coat on the pericarp. All these factors mean that the seed may take up to 8 years to germinate. One way of shortening this time is to stratify the seed for 5 months at high temperatures (10°c at night, up to 30°c by day) and then 5 months cold stratification. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in spring just before the leaves unfurl. Takes 1 – 3 years. Suckers, when formed, can be removed with as much root as possible during the dormant season and replanted immediately.
Collection: The flowers should be gathered immediately after flowering in the midsummer. They should be collected on a dry day and dried carefully in the shade.
Culinary uses of Lime Flowers:
Edible Parts: Flowers, Leaves, Manna, Sap.
Edible Uses: Chocolate, Sweetener, Tea.
Young leaves – raw. Excellent in salads, they are mild and mucilaginous. A refreshing tea is made from the dried flowers. A honey-like fragrance. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity. Flowers – used as a vegetable. A very acceptable chocolate substitute can be made from a paste of the ground-up flowers and immature fruit. Trials on marketing the product failed because the paste is very apt to decompose. Sap – used as a drink or concentrated to make a syrup and used as a sweetener. An edible manna is obtained from the tree, possibly obtained from the sap.
Actions: Nervine, anti-spasmodic, hypotensive, diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, astringent.
Part Used: Dried flowers.
Indications: Lime flowers are a well known as a relaxing remedy for use in nervous tension. It has a reputation as a prophylactic against the development of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. It is considered to be a specific in the treatment of raised blood pressure associated with arteriosclerosis and nervous tension. Its relaxing action combined with a general effect upon the circulatory system give Linden a role in the treatment of some forms of migraine. The diaphoresis combined with the relaxation explain its value in feverish colds and flu.
King’s Dispensatory recommends “Tilia europea for the relief of many nervous and catarrhal disorders. The infusion is preferred and may be given to allay irritation and restlessness, and to promote rest and sleep. The hot infusion is employed to check diarrhoea from cold, and in the various forms of colds and catarrhal conditions, while, either hot or cold, it may be used in restlessness, nervous headaches, painful and difficult digestion, and mild hysteria.
Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the blossoms and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. For a diaphoretic effect in fever, use 2-3 teaspoonfuls.
Combinations: In raised blood pressure it may be used with Hawthorn and European Mistletoe, with Hops in nervous tension and with Elder Flower in the common cold.
Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.
Other uses of Lime Flowers:
Charcoal, Fibre, Paper, Wood.
A fibre from the inner bark is used to make mats, shoes, baskets, ropes etc. It is also suitable for cloth. It is harvested from trunks that are 15 – 30cm in diameter. The fibre can also be used for making paper. The stems are harvested in spring or summer, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The outer bark is removed from the inner bark by peeling or scraping. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten in a ball mill. The paper is beige in colour. Lime Wood – soft, white, easily carved;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 very suitable for carving domestic items and small non-durable item. A charcoal made from the wood is used for drawing.
Esoteric uses of Lime Flowers:
Used in love spells/mixtures and protection spells & incenses. Mix equal parts Linden and Lavender flowers and place in a sachet under your pillowcase to relieve insomnia. Keep Linden on a table to release the energies needed to keep the spirit alive and healthy.
- Volatile oil, up to about 0.1%, containing farnesol
- Flavonoids; hesperidin, quercitin, astralagin, tiliroside and others
- Miscellaneous; mucilage (in the bract), phenolic acids, tannins.