In full flower, the heady scent of the European Lime saturates the summer air. The flowers are rich in nectar, and honeybees working them make a pale-green honey that tastes minty. The European Lime standing to the south of the Main Gate was planted in November 1846 by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge to mark the opening of the ‘new’ Botanic Garden. Its leaf has become the Garden’s logo.
Aphids feed on many Tilia species , and drop sticky honeydew after drinking sap from leaf veins. However, T. henryana (planted nearby, with leaves with toothed edges), is totally resistant to aphids. For this reason, it is planted to give shade to tables outside the Café.
Lime trees were formerly in their own family (Tiliaceae), but DNA evidence shows that they belong to the Mallow family (Malvaceae). This family includes many herbs and shrubs, including Hibiscus, Cotton (Gossypium), and trees such as Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) and Kola (genus Cola).