Saturday, April 22, 2023

leef on lynde


Young leaves of Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos). Frome, 21 April 2023.

I'm rather pleased with yesterday's photo, which is intended to be educational, though I'm sure it's far more for my own education than anyone else's. Anyway, the tree in the background is a Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata), showing no sign whatever of coming into leaf. But in the foreground you can see the young leaves of Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos), now fully out, though still quite small. 

So based on a sample of not much, I infer that T. platyphyllos comes into leaf about three or four weeks before T. cordata. I noticed the buds of this Broad-leaved Lime starting to enlarge as far back as 4 April, as shown in the photo below. 

(And based on an equally paltry sample, the hybrid Common Lime comes into leaf midway between its parent species, as you might expect.)

Opening leaf-buds of Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos). Frome, 4 April 2023.

Last year I wrote a longer post about lime trees. That was at midsummer, the time of year when we usually notice them, sweetly fragrant and humming with bees.

Yet the image of lime trees coming into leaf has its own cultural history, specifically in early German poetry. 

Ir sunt iuch erlouben
ringens uf der louben.
lant die linden louben.
ir sunt mir gelouben,
hant ir den gelouben,
ir brechent Botenlouben
lihter die steinwant.

(Gottfried von Neifen, fl. 1234-55)

A.T. Hatto paraphrases:

'What if the limes are putting on leaf,' says the girl to Gottfried, 'you will sooner break down the castle-wall of Botenlauben than my defences'. 

Hatto points out that the association of leafing limes with the stirrings of love comes into Medieval English poetry too, for example "light as leef on linde" in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale. But the English poets, he thinks, were probably using "linde" as a general term for no particular tree, happily alliterative with both "leaf" and "love". 

In Germany, on the other hand, the lime tree was the definitive tree of love. Specifically, the Broad-leaved Lime, which in Germany (unlike the British Isles) is a common native tree. In many places it was the usual shade tree, the traditional spot for outdoor dancing and summer courtship. 

I'm taking all this from A.T. Hatto's article "The Lime-Tree and Early German, Goliard and English Lyric Poetry" (The Modern Language Review, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Apr., 1954), pp. 193-209. . 

Though I was a bit surprised by his characterization of the Broad-leaved Lime as "altogether a more magnificent tree" than the Small-leaved Lime... the two species can attain similar heights and today the Small-leaved Lime is often described as the more attractive tree. Maybe Hatto was reflecting German tastes.  In German "Sommerlinde" is the Broad-leaved Lime and "Winterlinde" is the Small-leaved Lime.

There's much more in his article to ponder. Well worth a read if you have at least an hour! 

Young leaves of Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos). Frome, 21 April 2023.

Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos) and Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata). Frome, 1 May 2023.

May 1st: the Broad-leaved Lime is now in full leaf. Still no leaves on the Small-leaved Lime. But . . .

Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata). Frome, 1 May 2023.

.... The leaf-buds are finally swelling. 

Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata). Frome, 15 May 2023.

Two weeks later (15 May 2023), a Small-leaved Lime clothed in fresh leaves. 

Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos) showing hanging flower-bracts. Frome, 22 May 2023.

A week later (22 May 2023) and the Broad-leaved Lime now displays its hanging flower-bracts (though the flowers are still in bud). No bracts to be seen on the Small-leaved Lime yet. Laura calls these bracts "keys". Well, why not?

Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos) showing hanging flower-bracts; Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata) in the distance. Frome, 22 May 2023. 

Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos). Frome, 7 June 2023.

And so here we are with two of the basic building blocks of June. The Broad-leaved Lime is now entirely shiny and sticky to the touch (the honeydew of millions of aphids), and is trashing all the car windscreens in its vicinity. 

Small-leaved Lime doesn't attract aphids on this scale. It also looks very different at this time of year, because the keys and flowers, instead of hanging from the leaves, poke out above them in every direction, creating a frosted effect.

Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata). Frome, 7 June 2023.

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