Limes


The motorist's enemy.



The park has about 120 lime trees of varying ages. Alongside the Common lime, you can find Silver, Short-Leaved and Broad-Leaved limes.


They're most easily identified by the palmate veining in the leaves: at the base of the leaf, the first veins all radiate from the same point. This is unusual in a simple leaf that doesn't have lobes, so it's very useful for identifying lime trees.

The veining is obvious right from the first appearance of leaves in the spring through to their autumn colours.




The other clue is the bracts, alongside the buds in spring ...


the wonderful scent of the flowers in early summer ...




 then in autumn the little round fruit.


The intoxicating scent of lime blossom in July is wonderful. The strange thing is that if you go right up to the tree, you don't smell the fragrance. It's stronger a few feet away.

Do not park your car under a lime tree.  The aphids that are fond of snacking on some lime leaves also excrete a honeydew that sticks like tar to the paintwork of your motor.


The leaves turn a deep yellow in autumn.



The buds are red in winter. Here's a chaffinch on a lime twig, to give you some idea of size:


In spring they grow rapidly, and soon the new pale leaves burst out, then gradually darken




The lovely pink bracts turn brown and the leaves become coarser and darker, ready for summer. The yellow-green we associate with the colour "lime green" best describes the early leaves of spring. 


I wonder if this lime near Warrender Park Terrace is a Silver Lime (Tilia tomentosa)?  The young leaves can appear almost white: at one point I started to think it must be a Dove Tree. But it is a lime.




For the more ordinary limes, the Woodland Trust has a tip for telling them apart: flip over the leaves and look at the underside.
  • Common lime (Tilia x europea) has tufts of white hairs underneath in the leaf axils
  • Small leaved lime (Tilia cordata) has tufts of rusty red hairs underneath in the leaf axils 
  • Large leaved lime (Tilia playyphyllos) has hairs all over the underside

An unusual feature to look out for on a few of the park's limes is lime nail galls: tiny red horns that result from a mite. These below were growing on a lime in Bruntsfield Links. Luckily they don't do the tree too much harm, and few of the Meadows or Links trees have much of an infestation yet.




This one beside Glengyle Terrace however, appropriately photographed in the gloomy rain, isn't looking too well. I think it may have a second mite, causing the yellow patches.


By the way, one of the most impressive avenues of limes in Edinburgh grows incongruously down Elm Row, in Leith. Their boughs hang gracefully over the bonnets of all the cars parked there, so I hope they're one of the types of lime that doesn't attract aphids ...