Tilia tomentosa Moench

Silver pendent lime

Family: Malvaceae
54º 34.977N
5º 56.178W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

Previously known as Tilia heterophylla ‘petiolaris’. The Belfast Botanic Gardens has a fine specimen of this less usual lime variety. You will find it just to your right as you enter the gardens through the Stranmillis Road gate. T. tomentosa flowers about a month later than the common lime (Tilia x europaea) and is distinguished by its dark glossy leaves which have a silvery underside. The leaf stalks are longer than in other limes. The flowers are highly scented and are also a point of distinction, the cream petals being longer than the stamens (compare with common lime in photo bottom right). This lime is not susceptible to the aphid problems of the common lime, but is not for the small garden as it can reach over 30m in height.

Its taxonomic status has had a complicated history. Earlier references treat it as a distinct species, Tilia petiolaris (eg. RHS Dictionary of Gardening), whereas others (eg The Trees of Britain and Europe, Mitchell and Wilkinson) treat it as a variety, possibly of garden origin, of Tilia tomentosa. The 2007-2008 RHS Plant Finder, treats it as a variety of Tilia heterophylla. However ‘Plants of the World Online’, now an international authority on plant names, asserts that the correct name is Tilia tomentosa, which we will follow here.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2007. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.