Nature on our doorsteps: Lime trees in flower

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Most of our street trees tend to flower early in the year but one species flowers around now, in late June and early July. 

This is the Lime tree, which is known as the Linden tree across Europe. 

Fragrant bunches of Lime flowers attract many pollinating insects compressor

Fragrant bunches of Lime flowers attract many pollinating insects

Despite its ‘Lime’ name, it is not related to the citrus plant that produces the green, lemon-sized lime fruits.

Reaching between 20-40m, the Lime tree is impressive in park settings and along roadsides where there is enough space for it to grow comfortably. 

What makes it particularly noticeable around now, however, is the lovely scent of its nectar-rich flowers which attract very many pollinators, especially honeybees and bumblebees.

We also benefit from this sweet offering, as these bunches of flowers are used to make the very fragrant Linden Tea which has long been used in herbal medicine, particularly in Europe.

The leaves of the Lime Tree are heart shaped, with finely serrates edges. 

Nail galls on Lime leaves are caused by tiny sap feeding mites compressor

'Nail galls’ on Lime leaves are caused by tiny sap-feeding mites

Sometimes these leaves can become covered with small, pointed, red structures called ‘nail galls’. 

These galls, or swellings, are caused by a tiny mite that feeds on plant sap. By secreting chemicals into the Lime leaf, the mite causes the leaf to form these little tissue-rich swellings. 

The mite then feeds on the abundant sap produced by the cells in these galls – a nifty way of concentrating your food source!  

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