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Lime, Linden (Tilia)

   Lime, Linden (Tilia), fam. Tiliaceae.
   One of the most common trees both in the city of Kyiv and in the forests around. The leaves are edible (though they contain too much mucous substances), the flowers are used for tea, but they are not as sweet as can be thought based on their fragrance. The trees bloom in June, not all at the same time. Probably, there are several species of lime trees in Kyiv, the most common of which is Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata).
   Many people ask: why almost every year no flowers are left on the lime trees by the first of July? Why the Ukrainian name of the seventh month "lypen" is so deceptive? There are various options to answer this. For example: 1) In the old times, when the commonly used names of the months were established, the climate used to be much colder, and all natural events happened about one month later than nowadays. However, this guess is complicated by the fact that before the year 1918, when the Old Style Julian Calendar was in use, "July" started only on today's 14th of July, and lasted until 13th of August. It is hard to believe that the climate was so cold sometime that the lime trees bloomed as late. 2) The name of the month could have been borrowed from northern Slavish peoples (e.g. the Belarusians), or from the mountain dwellers (Carpathians). 3) The month name is based not on the blooming of the trees, but on harvesting the new lime tree honey, which logically should be at least about one month later after the flowering.
   Lime tree flowers are commonly used as a sudorific, diuretic, antiinflammatory and expectorant remedy as a hot beverage. However, long-term overindulgence in this beverage can damage the eyesight and cause heart or nervous system problems. As for the possibility to use the lime tree fruits (nuts), there is no consistent evidence in the literature. Some people claim them to be edible, but also note the tough shells of the fruits and their mediocre taste. There were some attempts to extract oil from the fruits with petrol, or to make "milk"/"cream" from them by grinding and soaking in hot water. But it is known that quite few vegetable oils are helthy; in most cases, the opposite is true. Since the fatty acid composition of the lime tree fruits have not been studied, it is wise not to risk and refuse from such time-consuming experiments.

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