Small-leaved lime, small-leaved linden, little-leaf linden (Eng), tilo, tilo de hojas pequeñas (Spa), tell de fulla petita (Cat), ezki hostotxikia (Baq), tileiro (Glg), tília-de-folhas-pequenhas (Por).
“The old limes [...], white with hoar-frost, have a good-natured expression. They are nearer to one’s heart than cypresses and palms, and near them one doesn’t want to be thinking of the sea and the mountains.”
‘The Lady with the dog’, Anton Chekhov
This tree can be up to 30 m tall and has a wide, regular crown. The bark is greyish-brown and cracks longitudinally with age. The leaves are 3-10 cm long, heart-shaped, somewhat asymmetrical at the base, serrated, and finish in an elongated tip. They are hairless on the upper side, but have rust coloured hairs on the underside, particularly in the axils of the veins. The groups of 4-15 flowers are erect, very aromatic and melliferous, and are accompanied by a tongue-shaped modified leaf (bract). The ripe fruit is rounded and smooth, distinguishing this species from the large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos Scop. subsp. platyphyllos), which has longitudinal ribs.
This tree grows in shady and humid areas in ravines, usually on limestone, from sea level up to 1600 m. It can form small copses, but usually accompanies other deciduous tree species. Lime trees can have a symbiotic relationship with mushrooms from the truffle group. In addition, they are especially resistant to fire.
This species is more abundant than its relative and occurs throughout almost all of Europe, western Siberia and the Caucasus. It is found naturally occurring in the northern fringe of the Iberian Peninsula. It lives from the Picos de Europa mountains, to the Basque country and Navarre, across to the most eastern areas of the Pyrenees. It is commonly used as an ornamental plant in parks, gardens and along roads.