City bees are dizzy with happiness at present. The sweet perfume of Lime (NL:Linden, Tilia spp.) trees fills the air in many streets and parks, attracting bees from far and wide. This tree looks wonderful, can grow to a stately height, is great for wildlife and it’s flowers are used to make the best herb tea and honey on Earth (well, I think so anyway!). The Lime tree is able to calm our nerves and bring us happiness.
The tree is easily identified. It has a classic tree shape, if allowed to grow unchecked, has large heart-shaped and sharply toothed leaves which are smooth above. Lime flowers hang yellowish-white from the trees from Midsummer to July, not necessarily all over the tree. There are often burrs on the handsome trunks.
- Linden flower tea is very popular here in the Netherlands and across the continent. Lime grows abundantly in the UK yet is less widely used. The French prize the herb tea made from Linden flowers above most others and call it Tilleul. It was used traditionally in Europe to treat nervous disorders such as hysteria, nervous vomiting and palpitations brought about by stress.
- Linden honey has been highly prized for generations, has a heavenly taste and carries many of the properties of the tree.
- Lime wood is excellent for minutely detailed carving and turning, being close grained, strong, durable and unattractive to woodworm.
- Lime bark has been traditionally used in Europe to make baskets and fishing nets.
- The sap is plentiful in spring and has a high sugar content. It can be tapped in the same as Maple and Birch.
- The leaves can also be made into a tea/infusion whereupon they yield an extremely thick (mucilaginous) and cooling drink. They also make a simple and tasty sandwich filling.
- It is found by many to be helpful for coughs, colds, fevers, headaches, inflammation, as a diaretic, general tonic, to calm the gut and to soothe nerves.
- In general this herb is thought of as soothing, relaxing and promoting feelings of happiness.
Lime blossom is easy to harvest, dry and use but as with all herbs, it should be treated with great respect. Harvest when in full bloom and all should be well but beware that Lime blossom tea can produce a mild, non addictive intoxication. Flowers left on the tree too long before harvesting are said to have a more intoxicating effect. The mildly intoxicating effect of appropriatly harvested Lime makes many of us feel happy. It also makes Lime extremely valuable to those seeking to enter a state of trance and other magical journeying.
On a spiritual level, Lime is renowned as a tree herb which can help relieve grief and induce feelings of vibrancy and youthfulness. To appreciate these qualities it is said that you should carry a small bag, filled with dried Lime leaves, or that you place them under your pillow.
How to harvest Lime/Linden.
Harvest from mature Lime trees, in as clean and unpolluted an area as is possible.
Choose a dry day, preferably before it becomes too hot and after the dew has dried.
Snip off young healthy sprigs, containing blossoms and a few leaves, from branches which you can reach easily.
Respect the trees and harvest sparingly.
Spread the harvest out on a clean dry surface, preferably on trays so air can circulate easily.
Leave in a warm, well ventilated place for 2 – 3 weeks, until the sprigs are thoroughly dry and brittle.
Store in sterilised airtight containers.
How to make Linden/Lime tea and infusion.
You can make Linden tea by simply steeping a sprig of fresh Lime in a cup of boiling hot water for as long as desired for taste. Or you can use a teaspoon full of dried crushed herb per cup.
To make an infusion place about 5 tablespoons of crushed dried herb in a pot or jar which holds about 500ml of water (you could scale this up to suit the size of your container). Add 500ml boiling water and leave with a tightly fitting lid and without heat, for between 4 and 8 hours (preferably overnight). Then strain, separately retaining both the herb and infusion. The infusion should be good for 24 hours if refrigerated. Return the “used” herb material to the pot and add about 300ml of boiling water. Simmer gently, for up to 2 hours, after which a very mucilaginous fluid should be obtained. Again this should be good for about 24 hours if refrigerated.