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Both the small-leaved and the small-leaved lime are deciduous deciduous trees found throughout Europe. The small-leaved lime blossoms a little earlier, and there are more similarities than differences between the two types of lime.

The large-leaved lime and the small-leaved lime look very similar

The distribution areas of the small-leaved lime are more southerly than those of the small-leaved lime. In Central Europe, these two species are equally well represented. The Tilia platyphyllos and Tilia cordata both belong to the genus Linden in the mallow family. The appearance of the two lime tree species is very similar, but they can be distinguished by a few characteristic features:

  • growth and branching,
  • sheet size and surface,
  • inflorescences and flowers,
  • Fruit.

Growth behavior in comparison

In general, lime trees are fast-growing and long-lived. Both the small-leaved and the summer linden are very large trees that can reach a height of 30-40 m. The small-leaved lime needs more light and forms a denser crown than the small-leaved lime.

Leaves as the main distinguishing feature

The leaves of the summer linden are about 8-12 cm long, evenly green and herbaceous, velvety hairy on both sides. Leaf stalks are also hairy. There are whitish armpit beards on the underside of the leaves, which turn brownish in late summer. The small-leaf lime, on the other hand, has smaller leaves, about 4-7 cm long, which are leathery and have a lighter, blue to grey-green underside. The petiole and the leaf itself are bare on the upper side, while the lower side has brownish axillary beards.

flowers and fruits

The two species of linden can flower at the age of 10-20 years, which is quite early considering their life expectancy (up to 1000 years). The beginning of flowering varies, also depending on the location and weather conditions. In general, profuse flowering begins in June, with the large-leaved lime blooming about 10-14 days earlier than the small-leaved lime. There are 5 to 11 whitish flowers on the inflorescence of the small-leaved lime. The inflorescences of the summer linden only have 2 to 5 whitish-green flowers.

The linden blossoms attract all kinds of insects that ensure pollination. The flowers turn into fruits: large, woody and distinctly angular in the small-leaved lime; soft, thin and easily crushed in the case of the small-leaved lime. Many fruits do not contain seeds, which is why the propagation of the two types of lime tree by seeds is rather rare in nature. The vegetative propagation by stick or root eruption is the more common type of propagation in the native species of lime.


Dried lime blossoms are used in herbal tea blends. Linden blossom tea is used in folk medicine for colds as an expectorant and sweat-inducing agent.

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