Small-leaved Lime

┬ęDinesh Valke

Small-leaved lime

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Scientific name: Tilia cordata
A scarce tree of central and southern England, in particular, the Small-leaved Lime can be found in ancient woodland. It is has sweet-smelling flowers in summer and nut-like fruits in autumn.

Top facts


Height: up to 25m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Small-leaved lime is a large tree of ancient woodland, particularly across southern England and the Midlands where it has a scattered distribution, but can be abundant. Its sweet-smelling summer flowers attract a huge number of insects looking for nectar, while its leaves are popular with caterpillars of the Lime hawk moth, among other species. It produces large-winged, nut-like fruits that disperse its seeds by the wind.

What to look for

The Small-leaved lime has heart-shaped leaves; yellow-green, five-petalled flowers; and small, oval fruits with pointed tips. The three lime trees of the UK are difficult to tell apart. The Small-leaved lime lives up to its name: it has smaller leaves than the Large-leaved and Common limes, with patches of tiny, rusty-orange hairs by the veins on their undersides.

Where to find

Widespread, but uncommon, in England and Wales.

Did you know?

Limes are particularly useful trees: the Small-leaved lime was regularly coppiced for firewood and pole-making; its flowers were used to make a type of tea that was a mild sedative; and the fibres beneath its bark were used to make rope.