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Tilia cordata
Small-leaved lime

Small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) is a large and long-living tree. It has a wide, natural range and can be found in most of Europe. The small-leaved lime is very similar to the large-leaved, both in terms of appearance and properties, but it is distinguished by having hairs in the vein axils on the lower surface of its leaves. Lime wood is soft and resistant to splitting and mostly used for carving. Moreover, almost all parts of the tree can be used for products such as fodder, ropes or firewood. Small-leaved lime is, like other lime species, also important for amenity use, shelterbelts and plantings in the open landscape, in urban areas and recreational forestry.

The tree favours good, loamy sites but is quite drought tolerant and can also be found on sandy and infertile soils.

Lime is tolerant of shade and usually grows in dense forests in association with other species. Many fungi and insects are associated with the tree and it is particularly important for honeybees and thus honey production. The tree is able to survive more than 1000 years, even when being managed as coppice.

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Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use

Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos - Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use for lime

Publication Year: 2003
Author: Jensen, J.S.

A network of conservation stands is needed to conserve the genetic variation of limes, which have evolved through adaptation to different ecological and environmental conditions. Conservation and breeding programmes in all countries where lime is found is required to ensure the conservation of the genepool. Specific strategies should include:
Sampling strategies: Inventories are needed to provide an overview of the status of genetic conservation in each individual country and at the European scale. For practical purposes, provenance regions can be identified on the basis of ecogeographic variation and can be modified to take into account either expected gene flow or general knowledge about genetic variation within the species.

Central core regions: Large genetic reserves within the central core regions of distribution are needed for effective gene conservation purposes and should be given high priority, as large genetic variation is expected to be present in the core distribution area. In general, Tilia occurs in mixed species forest and is associated with a number of different plant species. Existing protected areas will only partly serve as genetic conservation areas, as they are not selected at random nor do they cover the core regions of distribution.

Marginal regions: In some regions, large gene reserves of Tilia are lacking, and these genetic resources may be extensively fragmented. They may also be subject to pollen contamination from new plantations originating from non-local seed sources. For these situations, in situ conservation may not be effective. In some of the marginal regions the regeneration of Tilia is lacking or inadequate. Ex situ conservation of Tilia genetic resources is therefore recommended in marginal regions. Preferably, these ex situ conservation stands should be established on the basis of reproductive material from within the local regions, in accordance with in situ silvicultural management principles. In situ conservation in marginal regions should include a larger number of populations.

Use and management of genetic resources: Breeding, improvement and management of genetic resources of Tilia should be combined with gene conservation to allow evolutionary forces to continue. Combining conservation and use is especially necessary for species of low economic interest (“use it or lose it”). At some locations the lime trees may be eradicated, if costly and extensive precautions are not taken. Alternatively, these resources could be used to promote the establishment of new populations from local seed collections.


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