The Secrets of the Trees
We hold our Mystic Magic in the Forest weekend retreats at Rosliston, in Rosliston National Forest, near Burton upon Trent, just south of Derby in the Midlands. Our retreats are themed, but often include an appreciation of nature, walks, the significance of trees in Spiritual and Pagan history, and their myths and legends
This blog charts the story, in instalments, of those trees, and all of those to be found at Rosliston, around forty species. Each tree is to be found at Rosliston, but may also be found more widely around Great Britain, Europe, North America and beyond.
In these blogs I describe each tree, explain where they are found, what their history is and how they have related to our history. I also explore the myths and legends surrounding the trees in different countries and from different traditions as well as how herbalists have used them to treat human conditions and how products from the trees have been used throughout history.
I hope that you enjoy reading these tree blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you. If you would like to come and see them in their natural habitat why not join us for one of our retreats?
Small Leaved Lime – tilia cordata
This is a species of Tilia native to much of Europe. It is found from Britain through central Fennoscandia, to central Russia, and south to central Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, the Caucasus, and western Asia. In the south of its range it is restricted to high elevations.
The trees favour good, loamy sites, but can also be found on sandy, infertile soils, and are not thought to be drought resistant. Dormant shoots of T. cordata can resist winter frost temperatures as low as −34 °C.In Britain T. cordata is considered an indicator of ancient woodland, and is becoming increasingly rare.
Owing to its rarity, a number of woods have been given SSSI status. Cocklode Wood, part of the Bardney Limewoods, is the best surviving spread of medieval small leaved limes in England. Another site is Shrawley Wood in Worcestershire. Small-leaved lime was once regarded as holy and good for carving.
Trees in northern England were found to have established when the climate was warmer and have adapted to the cooling climate. Paleobotanical analysis of tree pollen preserved in peat deposits demonstrates that T. cordata was present as a woodland tree in the southern Lake District c 3100 B.C
The tree is fairly disease-resistant, though a common problem is leaf scorch where planted on dry soils, however leaf scorch is not a long-term problem as the leaves are lost in the autumn. Pests include Japanese beetles, aphids, lace bugs and various species of moths.
Tilia cordata is widely grown as an ornamental tree. It was much planted to form avenues in 17th and early 18th century landscape planning. A famous example is Unter den Linden in Berlin.
It is also widely cultivated in North America as a substitute for the native Tilia americana (American linden or basswood) which has a larger leaf, coarser in texture; there it has been renamed “Little-leaf Linden”.
It is popular as both a shade tree with its dense canopy, an ornamental tree with its architectural shape and a street tree.
In Europe, there are espaliered trees owing to the ability to survive heavy pruning. Tilia cordata is an easy tree to train for bonsai when the training is not done all at once. Letting the tree recoup in between sessions over a period of several months creates a healthy, good-looking miniature tree.
Prior to the advent of firearms, it was also commonly used for making shields (as referenced in Beowulf). The tree prefers moist, well-drained soil, but can survive flooding; it is not highly drought tolerant. It does not do well in soils with high salinity.
The lime is regarded as a female tree and was sacred to Frigga, the Goddess of Fertility. Dance around it as a ritual were commin in Germany. In France and Switzerland, it is seen as a symbol of liberty and were planted to commemorate victory.
In Scandinavia they are seen as the favourite haunt of elves and faeries and should not be approached after dark.