The lime tree is one of the most used plants in infusion for its pleasant taste of honey which could almost make it forget its medicinal properties.
In nature, there are two species of linden:
The small-leaved linden, Tilia cordata Mill., with heart-shaped leaves of 5 to 7.5 cm and red hair in the axils of the veins.
And the large-leaved lime, Tilia platyphyllos Scop., whose leaves can reach 12 cm. Its flowers are less numerous, carried by bracts * larger (about ten centimeters) and very fragrant. It is the most sought after species.
The hybrid of the two species is called common lime, Tilia x europea L. It is frequently planted as a street tree because it is very resistant and adapts with many types of soils.
The linden tree is a slow growing tree. Its longevity can reach several hundred years, as the Bergheim linden in the upper Rhine, 700 years old. Its dimensions are sometimes impressive, up to 40 m of height and more than 10 meters in circumference.
In the Drôme Region, the oldest lime tree is the “Sully” in Saint Martin en Vercors, planted in 1597. Sully, the minister of finance under Henri IV, obtained from the latter an edict by which he was ordered to plant an abalone in the cemetery of all the parishes, in front of the main door of the church, where the assemblies of the community or the parish were held at the end of the Sunday mass. In Dauphiné, the elm was replaced by the linden tree. As a sign of gratitude, the inhabitants gave this tree the name of Sully.
In Drôme, each farm has its own linden tree, which brings a pleasant shade and dispenses its perfume at the beginning of summer. It is frequently found grafted with large-bract varieties, with its harvest being an interesting complementary income. Traditionally, it is the first production of the season before harvest, followed by nuts.
Today, picking is concentrated in only a few areas, notably in the Baronnies (Drôme Provençale). There are many varieties of linden, such as the Benivay. A true harvesting tradition persists and the region supplied up to 90% of national consumption in the early 1980s!
The international lime fair is held in the center of the Barronnies, in Buis les Baronnies, on the 3rd Saturday of July. Historically, it was during this fair that the rate of the lime tree was fixed for the season to come.
In herbalism, linden bracts are used to help cure sleep disorders, nervousness, and digestive spasms. It is also used as a calming and sedative, under the condition of respecting the doses, because the linden can prove to be exciting when taken in too much quantity. A saying illustrates this phenomenon: “A pinch soothes, a handful excites.”
It is also a softener and a sudorific ** used in winter diseases: cold, cough, flu. In cosmetics, it relieves inflammations of the skin.
The sapwood, the living part of the bark, is a depurative and a diuretic. It eliminates toxins from the body and prevents kidney stones, but it should not be used during an extended amount of time at the risk of over straining the kidneys (cure of ten to twenty days maximum).
Beauty infusion of linden
A simple infusion of linden is a pleasant lotion that gently cleans the skin, relieve irritations (from wind, sun, pollution). It also provides care to fragile and devitalized hair.
Prepare an infusion with the bracts at the rate of 10 to 20g per liter of water.
* The bract is a floral part that is located at the base of the inflorescence (or flower) and that surrounds the base of the peduncle.
** Which causes sweat.