Lime tree

Lime tree; there are small-leaved and large-leaved lime trees.

Also known as:
Linden (European species)
Basswood (American species)

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recognize lime tree leaf and flower
Flower and leaf Lime tree, photo: pxhere, CC0 Public Domain
  • The leaves and flowers of the lime tree are non-toxic.

Lime tree(Tilia); there are small-leaved (Small-leaved lime – Tilia cordata) and large-leaved limes (Large Leaf Lime trees, Tilia platyphyllos). The lime tree is native to the northern hemisphere.
Linden belong to the deciduous trees, the mature trees grow to a height of 20 to 30 meters and can grow very old. The Queen Elizabeth Tree at Burghley House (UK), is a lime tree with ancient origins.
The lime tree tolerates pruning well; therefore, it is often used as an espalier tree. When pruning linen it is important that when pruning branches the trunk and main branches are not exposed to direct sunlight to avoid burning the thin bark (sunburn).


Slug-shaped caterpillar lookalike on an oak leaf, photo: Rasbak – CC BY-SA 3.0

About 1 cm small, dark-tinged, slimy slugs eat the mesophyll between the veins of the leaves. As a result, the remaining mesophyll turns brown and the leaves may fall off: slug-like caterpillar lookalike (larvae of the Oak Slug SawflyCaliroa annulipes).

Aphids on the leaf: lime-tree aphid (Eucallipterus tiliae). This aphid secretes honeydew on which sooty mold forms.

Galls of Linden gall mites, photo: Rosser1954 – CC Public domain

Small (+ 5mm), elongated yellow-green – later red – cones (galls) on the leaves. The galls contain tiny mites: Linden gall mite (Eriophyyes tiliae). Many galls on a single leaf can lead to leaf deformation.

Infestation by Hydrangea scale on hydrangea
White, woolly, waxy lint of hydrangea scale on hydrangea leaves, photo: Yolanda Bajmat

White woolly waxy fluff with wax threads: Hydrangea Scale (Pulvinaria hydrangeae). The lint is in fact the egg sac of the insect.

recognizing horse chestnut scale
Horse chestnut scale on maple tree, photo: Cwmhiraeth – CC BY-SA 4.0

Brownish aphids populate the stem: Horse chestnut scale (Pulvinaria regalis).

Fungi & diseases

In a wet spring, small black spots may appear on the trunk. The spots are slightly deepened: bark and leaf spot disease (Cercospora microsora).

recognize damage soot bark disease
Sooty bark disease on maple tree, photo: bjoerns – CC BY-SA 4.0

Dark brown to black spots on the bark, early leaf fall and dried branches in the crown: sooty bark disease (Cryptostroma corticale).

recognize coral spot
Coral spots, photo: Pethan – CC BY-SA 3.0

Small, orange-red raised spots appear on affected branches, which can be either dead or living branches: Coral spot (Nectria cinnabarina).


Lime trees have lots of young shoots at the base of the trunk. Prune away regularly.

Recognize bark crack lime
Vertical crack in trunk of a young lime tree, photo: Tuinadvies.nl

Vertical cracks in the bark of the trunk: Bark cracks.

A colony of Lime seed bugs hybernating on a lime tree, photo: Yerpo – CC BY-SA 4.0

A colony of Lime seed bugs hibernates on the trunk; they do no harm.

recognizing abrasion damage tree by tree ties
Abrasion Induced wound, photo: fb (with permission)

Lime trees generally need a support after planting: one tree stake is usually not sufficient. The trunk has too little grip on one tree stake and starts to rub within the tree tie. Two tree stakes with the tree in between anchor the tree better and prevent chafing damage. Clean the wound and apply wound paste; healing takes a long time (+ a year).