Tilia x europaea. Getty Images

Tilia x europaea

Common lime

  • Botanical name: Tilia x europaea
  • Common name: Common lime
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Plant Type: Tree, Deciduous
Flower colour:

White

Yellow

Foliage colour:

Green

Tilia x europaea, common lime, European lime or linden, is a deciduous tree, native to the UK. It’s a naturally occurring hybrid between the small-leafed lime (Tilia cordata) and large-leafed lime (Tilia platyphyllos) but is rarely found growing in the wild as both parent species need to be present in the same area. Common lime was previously widely planted in Britain and Europe to form lime avenues and can often be found growing in parks and parkland.

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Read more about growing lime trees.

Tilia x europaea is a fast growing tree with a broad crown. It has fresh green, heart-shaped leaves that turn yellow before falling in autumn. Clusters of white and pale yellow flowers are produced in summer, which when pollinated become small, knobbly fruits.

It’s a very good tree for wildlife. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of many moths and are very attractive to aphids – and therefore their predators, which include hoverflies, ladybirds and birds. The flowers are very attractive to bees, providing nectar and pollen. Bees and ants also feed on the honeydew secreted by the aphids.

It’s a tough tree that will thrive on most soils, including those that are wet over winter. Avoid windy or exposed sites. Remove the shoots that appear from the base of the tree – they will weaken the main tree and do not look attractive. Before planting, read our advice on planting trees.

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Tilia x europaea is too big for most gardens and is better suited to parkland. However pleached trees are available – stilted trees that can be planted along a boundary and make good screening trees. It’s best to avoid planting these near cars or garden furniture, as the sticky honeydew secreted by visiting aphids can be frustrating. Common lime can also be grown as a hedge and is also suitable for pollarding, which keeps the tree more compact.

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Advice on buying Tilia x europaea

  • Make sure you have enough space to grow common lime – it can reach heights of 35m x 15m after 50 years
  • Tilia x europaea can also be grown as a pleached or stilted tree – a better option for a smaller garden
  • You’re likely to find Tilia x europaea at a specialist tree nursery or online. Always buy trees from a reputable supplier that sells British-grown or certified disease-free stock, to guarantee against pests and diseases
  • Look out for bare root plants that can be bought and planted in the dormant season – these are usually cheaper

Where to buy Tilia x europaea

How to grow Tilia europaea

  • Plant size

    35m height

    15m spread

  • Sun exposure: Dappled shade, full sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Clay / heavy / moist

Tilia europaea and wildlife

Tilia europaea is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies​/​moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant and has nectar/pollen rich flowers.

Attractive to Bees

Attractive to Beneficial insects

Attractive to Birds

Attractive to Butterflies​/​Moths

Attractive to Other pollinators

Is Tilia europaea poisonous?

Tilia europaea has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People

Plants that go well with Tilia europaea