Tilia tuan

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Tilia tuan
Tilia tuan tree.jpg
Tilia tuan at Ventnor Botanic Garden, IoW, UK
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Tilia
T. tuan
Binomial name
Tilia tuan
  • Tilia angustibracteataH. T. Chang
  • Tilia austro-yunnanicaH. T. Chang
  • Tilia chenmouiW. C.Cheng
  • Tilia gracilisH. T. Chang
  • Tilia hupehensisW. C. Cheng ex Hung T. Chang
  • Tilia integerrimaH. T. Chang
  • Tilia mesembrinosMerr.
  • Tilia oblongifoliaRehder
  • Tilia obscuraHand.-Mazz.
  • Tilia omeiensisFang
  • Tilia tristisChun ex H. T. Chang
  • Tilia tuan f. divaricataV. Engl.
  • Tilia tuan var. cavalerieiEngl. & H. Lév.
  • Tilia tuan var. pruinosaV. Engl.

Tilia tuan is a species of lime found in forests at elevations of 12002400 m in the central Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang. The species has long been regarded as the most variable lime within China, acquiring numerous synonyms; three varieties are currently recognized. [1] The tree was first described by Henry who discovered it in 1888. [2]



Tilia tuan is a deciduous tree reaching 1020 m in height, its bark grey and longitudinally exfoliate; the branches are glabrous or tomentose, and form an open crown. The leaves are paper-thin, narrowly ovate or ovate-oblong to ovate-orbicular, 6.517 × 3.511 cm, on 16 cm petioles, the base oblique, rounded, truncate, or cordate, the margin can be entire or with minute teeth, or prominently dentate, the apex acuminate or acute. The upper surface is nearly all glabrous, the lower covered with a close grey felt. The violet-scented inflorescences appearing in late summer are cymes comprising 322 flowers 514 cm long, the petals 68 mm. The fruits are globose to obovoid-globose, 711 × 79mm, hard, and brown or grey hairy, and ripen between July and November. Ploidy: N = 82. [1] [2]


The species and the variety Chinensis are believed to have been introduced to the UK by Wilson while collecting for Veitch, though there is no record of their subsequent distribution. [2]

Notable trees

Probably the largest specimens surviving in the UK are at Thorp Perrow Arboretum, Yorkshire, planted 1936 and measuring 21 m × 0.7 m d.b.h. in 2004, [3] and at Borde Hill, Surrey; the latter bought at the Aldenham sale of 1932 as var. Chinensis, which measured 20 m × 1 m d.b.h. in 1984. [4]


Three varieties are recognized, var. Tuan, var. Chinensis, and var. Chenmoui, distinguished by minor differences in the inflorescences or leaf margins. [1]



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  1. 1 2 3 Tang, Y., Gilbert, M. G., & Dorr, L. J. Tiliaceae, in Wu, Z. & Raven, P. (eds) (2007). Flora of China, Vol. 12. Science Press, Beijing, and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, USA.
  2. 1 2 3 Bean, W. J. (1981). Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain, 7th edition. Murray, London.
  3. Johnson, O. (ed.). (2011). Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. ISBN   978-1842464526
  4. Harrison, H. (2012). Plant hunting for Borde Hill. The Plantsman, June 2012,  p.93.

Further reading