Tilia platyphyllos

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaTiliaceaeTiliaTilia platyphyllos


This species occurs as a native in old, mixed deciduous woodland on calcareous or, rarely, acidic soils, typically as a large tree or coppice stool. It also grows on cliff ledges, and as a planted tree on roadsides, in gardens, parkland and plantations. Seedlings are frequent, but saplings rare. Vegetative reproduction is by new shoots from the tree base. 0-400 m (Craig y Cilau, Brecs.).



World Distribution

European Temperate element.

Broad Habitats

Broadleaved, mixed and yew woodland

Light (Ellenberg): 4

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 6


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.3

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.6

Annual Precipitation (mm): 816

Life form information

Height (cm): 3000

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Mega-, meso- and microphanerophyte



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 84

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: 2.57

Weighted Changed Factor: 70

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Tilia platyphyllos Scop.

Large-leaved lime

Status: scarce


Typically this species occurs as a large tree or coppice stool in old woodland, where it is usually associated with a mixed canopy of Acer campestre, A. pseudoplatanus, Fagus sylvatica, Fraxinus excelsior, Quercus robur, Taxus baccata and Ulmus glabra, with the field layer dominated by Mercurialis perennis (Rodwell 1991a). It also grows on ledges of cliffs, where it is associated with some of these species and often with apomictic Sorbus species. It is usually found on calcareous soils of very variable depth, or, more rarely, on acid soils derived from volcanic rocks. It occurs on the lower slopes of hills up to about 400 metres at Craig y Cilau. 

It is a very long-lived tree (probably reaching 500-700 years) and reproduces vegetatively by new shoots springing from the junction of stem and root and from fallen stems. Suckers from the roots are not normally produced. Fruits are usually fertile (in contrast to T. cordata at the north of its range) and seedlings are frequent but saplings rare. Saplings survive in deep shade but strong growth of young trees occurs mainly in gaps.

T. platyphyllos behaves in its natural habitats as a relict species of both old woodlands and such situations as ravines and cliffs. It has been widely planted since at least the sixteenth century and has sometimes spread by seeding from planted sources. It is tolerant of silvicultural neglect and is lost only when woodland is grubbed out.

It is native throughout central and western Europe, reaching its northern limit in a single Swedish locality at latitude 59 °N and its eastern limit at longitude 25 °E in Ukraine. Southwards it extends to the hills bordering the Mediterranean in Europe and into Turkey.

It has often been regarded as doubtfully native in Britain but its fossil fruits and pollen occur in postglacial (Flandrian) deposits and it appears to have spread into Britain about 7000 years ago. In several localities it grows with natural hybrids (T. x vulgaris L.) but more rarely with T. cordata.


C. D. Pigott

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (87b)
Abraham F, Rose F
2000.  Large-leaved limes on the South Downs. British Wildlife. 12:86-90.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Rauschert S, Weinert E
1978.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.
Pigott CD
1981.  The status, ecology and conservation of Tilia platyphyllos in Britain. The Biological Aspects of Rare Plant Conservation. :305-317.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.