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Tilia

Tilia (lime, linden, basswood family Tiliaceae) A genus of trees with large, blunt buds, and alternate, usually heart-shaped, leaves on long stalks. The flowers are in small stalked cymes with a large oblong bracteole fused to the inflorescence stalk for some distance. Flowers are yellow or white, fragrant, and insect-pollinated (unlike most northern temperate forest trees); and have 5 free sepals and petals, many stamens, and a 5-celled ovary which forms a globular or ovoid 1-celled, 1–3-seeded nut. The nectar is eagerly sought by bees, who produce an excellent honey where it is plentiful. The timber was formerly much used for wood-carving; Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721) often used it. The young leafy shoots were once used to feed stalled cattle where herbage was scarce, and a kind of bread was made from the starch-rich phloem tissues. There are some 45 species in the northern temperate zone. Tilia species, especially T. cordata, were dominant in pre-Neolithic times in many English and European forests, but they have become much scarcer as a result of human activities, though remaining locally important in less modified forests in Eurasia and N. America. The hybrid T. × europea (a natural hybrid between T. cordata and T. platyphyllos) is much planted in parks and avenues in Europe.

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