Forest 38 - Small leaved lime

Tilia cordata

Tilia cordata tree. Photo not from the Arboretum  

Other common names

Small-leaved linden, little-leaf linden.

Origin of the species name

Tilia is Latin name for linden; cordata is Latin for heart and refers to the heart shaped leaves.



Date planted

Planted 2011.


Trees of this species live around 60 years, with some living much longer.

Tilia cordata flowers and leaves. Photo not from the Arboretum

General description 

This is a tall deciduous tree with a dense round crown. The bark is grey or brown and ridged with shallow furrows. The leaves are distinctively heart-shaped. The leaves turn to yellow in autumn. The small yellow-green flowers are produced in clusters of up to eleven and have a rich heavy scent. The fruit is a dry nut-like drupe. Height 25m Spread 12m.

Natural distribution and habitat  

The species is native to much of Europe and western Asia where it occurs in woodland forests on most fertile soils. It is commonly found on wooded limestone cliffs and in the south of its range it is restricted to higher altitudes.

Conservation status

Although it is not classified as a threatened species, in Britain it is thought to be becoming increasingly rare.

Planting pattern

Planted in curved lines.


The white, finely-grained wood has been used for woodcarvings and church altars. A fibre from the inner bark is used to make mats and shoes and has also been used for cloth and paper. The young leaves can be eaten as a salad vegetable and the trees are important for honey production. The flowers are also used to make a traditional herbal remedy (linden flower tea) as an anti-inflammatory for a range of respiratory problems. It is the national tree of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

Further reading

Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins.