Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Lime

1. [Italy]  my mother collected lime flowers and dried them for use as a tea for sleep and also for bathing sore eyes [Streatham, London, May 2019].

2.  When travelling in the Highlands of Scotland, where I have lived all my life, you can come across three lime trees planted by the roadside, this is unusual in the middle of nowhere, as limes are not native to Scotland.  The trees are very carefully planted in a straight line parallel to the road and equidistant to each other.  This is a sign to travellers that there is a well on the opposite side of the road, I have been told [e-mail, July 2016].

3.  My friend who used to work at Lichfield Cathedral School, which provided children for the Cathedral Choir, said that every Ascension Day they used to get up early in the morning and put a sprig of elm [Ulmus] on every door in the Cathedral Close.  After the Ascension Day communion everyone in the procession was given sprigs of elm, and at different stations around the Close there were readings, carrying the elm in one hand and the reading in the other.  After the final reading the Dean blessed everybody and sprinkled them with holy water, and then they went back into the Cathedral where they threw the elm into the font.  Nowadays lime is used instead of elm because there isn’t enough elm within or near the Close.  (I think that the lime tree ‘avenue’ in Lichfield Cathedral Close is thought to be the second oldest in the country, Windsor being the oldest) [Lichfield, Staffordshire, January 2015].

0404.  Netherlands, Zeeland, especially the isle of Zuid Beveland:  plant four lime trees to mark borders between villages; has been going on for at least 250 years [Natural History Museum, London, June 2014].

5.  I was taught by other children in my Dorset village 70-odd years ago to produce an ear-splitting whistle from a leaf of common lime … Leaves were are their best for this purpose in June, when fully developed but flexible. I recently demonstrated to impressed grandchildren that I have not lost this art. The leaf is held taut against the lips [Sidmouth, Devon, December 1992].

6. I am … an Invernessian, born and brought up in the village of Culcabock, about two miles from the town of Inverness …
The fruit of the lime tree was soft and sweet. It was known as hen’s apples [Solihull, West Midlands, March 1991].

Images: main, planted, Shepherd’s Bush Green, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, May 2014; insert,  planted, Holy Sepulchre churchyard, Northampton, Northamptonshire, May 2015.