GPS coordinates :
50.8146 , 4.3901
Scientific inventory
Contributors :
Tree walk - Boondael


Category :
Arbre remarquable
Latin name :
Tilia tomentosa
French name :
Tilleul argenté
Dutch name :
English name :
Silver lime (UK), Silver linden (US)
Family :
Height :
20 m
Targeted height :
This species can grow up to 40 m
Diameter of the crown :
14 m
Trunk circumference :
272 cm
Expected circumference :
500 cm
Expected longevity :
Can live for 1000–2000 years
Origin / Indigenous
South-eastern Europe, Anatolia
Favorite soil :
Favorite climate
Tilia tomentosa, Hempel.Belgian Federal State Collection on permanent loan to the Meise Botanical Garden

Features and characters of the individual

Lime trees: facts and stories

Very old lime trees are considered sacred in Germany. Justice was traditionally dispensed under lime trees, in front of gathered crowds. They are very present in the collective imagination of the German people. In Germany, their popularity even exceeds that of oaks over here.

The Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs), which is sometimes considered the founding legend of Germany, has a lime tree at the centre of the story. The hero of the story, Siegfried, is born and also dies under a lime tree. He fights the dreaded dragon Fafnir and manages to slay him. By bathing in the dragon’s blood, he becomes almost invincible. However, a fallen leaf from the lime tree sticks to his back between his shoulder blades, preventing all of his skin from touching the dragon blood as he bathes (the source of his invincibility). This point on his back becomes his weak spot, and he is eventually killed by being stabbed in the back as he bends down to drink water... which also takes place underneath a lime tree.

Across the country, more than 1000 towns and villages incorporate the tree’s name into their own. One of the most famous thoroughfares in Berlin is also named after the tree: Unter den Linden (‘Under the lime trees’). This avenue has four rows of lime trees and has a reputation for being romantic and particularly fragrant in June. Are these trees also home to Freya, the goddess of love and fertility? This figure from Germanic mythology is also associated with lime trees.

Did you know?

When it comes to honey, the lime tree is king. This tree is particularly melliferous (meaning that is yields honey). The tree produces nectar that honey bees love. This nectar is a very sugary syrup with a unique flavour, which attracts the bees because they like its specific taste. When given the choice, honey bees produce honey (almost) exclusively from the nectar of lime tree flowers.

This attraction to lime trees makes the honey very fragrant and slightly fruity in flavour. Some specialists say that the honey sometimes has notes of wood and mint.

Other melliferous trees include black locust (also known as false acacia), sweet chestnut, horse chestnut, maple, etc. Each of these trees’ nectars has a distinctive flavour, And this is how we manage to produce an array of honeys with different notes, textures and smells.

The benefits of silver lime trees

Silver lime trees are extremely beautiful. They are planted in towns and cities as decoration in parks, on roundabouts, in squares, or along streets to create beautiful tree-lined avenues.

This species is also a champion when it comes to combatting urban pollution. Its leaves are slightly hairy and are particularly efficient at capturing fine particles in the air released by traffic, boilers and various industries. The more they capture, the less ends up in our lungs! And what’s more: not only do they purify the air that we breathe, but they also give it a pleasant scent in springtime that wafts around whole neighbourhoods.

Lastly, the huge foliage helps to regulate the surrounding climate, having a cooling, humidifying effect on the air in summer and slowing down cold winds in winter.

How to recognise a silver lime tree


large (5–7cm), heart-shaped (cordate), with serrated edges; fall from the tree in autumn (deciduous)


dark green upper side in spring with felty silvery-white hairs on the underside; deep yellow in autumn; and no foliage in winter


winged, small and sphere-shaped, with 4–5 lines (capsules)


creamy white to pale yellow, very fragrant, numerous in June and July

Specifics about this tree

This silver lime has historical value. This tree witnessed the most recent pushes that saw the municipality of Ixelles rapidly transform into a residential neighbourhood. It is also a focal point in the urban landscape.

The tree was probably planted in the 1930s, as it is clearly visible in aerial photos as early as the 1940s (see the images from Bruciel in the gallery). Back then, it was part of a small grove of trees growing between the Ixelles Cemetery and Chaussée de Boondael. The other side of the road was more of a rural landscape at the time.

However, in 1944, it saw the Rue des Egyptiens being built. After that, the agricultural plots were slowly replaced with buildings all along Chaussée de Boondael. In the 1970s, a path was laid running right underneath this tree’s crown, and traffic on the road grew too. The tree suddenly had people walking on one side and thousands of vehicles passing by on the other.

Its branches were able to spread out and grow over the road though, having access to more light. Today, the foliage on one of its large branches gets hit by a bus every ten minutes, leaving the tree with a slightly funny shape.

The chaos of traffic passing by doesn’t seem to faze this tree though, and it has carried on growing. The tree isn’t fazed by air pollution either: fine particles released by the traffic into the air can actually be filtered out by the tree’s foliage. When the tree blossoms in spring, its fragrance can also mask the smell of exhaust fumes as it wafts around the road.

In autumn, the leaves on this large tree turn a deep and warm shade of yellow, and they remain on the tree for a long time after changing colour. The colour and light effects from this tree are hard to miss, so it’s great for marking the curve in the road. It probably lifts the spirits of motorists who are stuck in traffic too. Do you think they take a moment to admire this tree?

(Story and photos created by Priscille Cazin- Sylvolutions)

This portrait is:

- Enriched with an illustration from the Belgian Federal State Collection on permanent loan to the Meise Botanical Garden.

- An initiative of Christos Doulkeridis, Mayor of Ixelles , Audrey Lhoest, portfolio holder for Environment, Green Spaces and Planting, and Tourism and the Ixelles Communal executive

Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
Photo by Priscille Cazin (Sylvolutions) © Ixelles/Elsene
© Bruciel 1944
© Bruciel 1953
© Bruciel 1971
© Bruciel 1977
© Bruciel