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Traditional and historic uses of the substance.
Of all trees, the lime and the elder are the most closely related to human settlements. In the Netherlands, a lime was always planted as the midpoint of a new settlement. The tree was the patron tree of the village. With its heart-shaped leaves, it was the favourite place of Freyja, the Germanic equivalent of Venus. The lime has long been regarded as an essentially female tree. Loving couples sat under the blossoming lime on hot summer nights, and villagers enjoyed its shade while drinking, joking and making music. "There is a lime tree at the well; I dreamed many a sweet dream in its shadow; in its bark I inscribed many a tender word; I shared my sorrows and joys with it", wrote Franz Schubert, the romantic piano composer. "There was, however, a darker association of the village lime. Many were Gerichtslinde, beneath which the law court met - a function which is vividly recalled by an illustration in the Luzerner Chronik of 1513, showing red-robed lawyers beneath the tree, a prisonor kneeling and a guard bearing a fearsome club. It may well be that the female quality of the tree symbolized mercy. In Switzerland and France, the lime tree was a symbol of liberty. . In France limes were planted - of which may still survive - to mark the end of the Wars of Religion and the granting of religious freedom by Henri IV under the Edict of Nantes ." [Milner]Many countries include the name of the lime in place names. An exceptionally large lime with three trunks, located in the Swedish Jˆnsboda Lindegard, has become world famous. The names of three great Swedish scholars are linked to this lime tree: Linnaeus, Lindelius and Tiliander. Whenever a well-known member of these families died, a large branch of the lime also died; at the start of this century only the dead trunk was left as a reminder of the dead scholars. (Vermeulen Synoptic 2)
Linden Tea is much used on the Continent, especially in France, where stocks of dried lime-flowers are kept in most households for making 'Tilleul.' The honey from the flowers is regarded as the best flavoured and the most valuable in the world. It is used exclusively in medicine and in liqueurs. The wood is useful for small articles not requiring strength or durability, and where ease in working is wanted: it is specially valuable for carving, being white, close-grained, smooth and tractable in working, and admits of the greatest sharpness in minute details. Grinley Gibbons did most of his flower and figure carvings for St. Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, and Chatsworth in Lime wood. It is the lightest wood produced by any of the broad-leaved European trees, and is suitable for many other purposes, as it never becomes worm-eaten. On the Continent it is much used for turnery, sounding boards for pianos, in organ manufacture, as the framework of veneers for furniture, for packingcases, and also for artists' charcoal making and for the fabrication of wood-pulp. The inner bark or bast when detached from the outer bark in strands or ribands makes excellent fibres and coarse matting, chiefly used by gardeners, being light, but strong and elastic. Fancy baskets are often made of it. In Sweden, the inner bark, separated by maceration so as to form a kind of flax, has been employed to make fishing-nets. The sap, drawn off in the spring, affords a considerable quantity of sugar. The foliage is eaten by cattle, either fresh or dry. The leaves and shoots are mucilaginous and may be employed in poultices and fomentations. (http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/mgmh.html)
European Lime (Tilia vulgaris) Type Hardwood. Other Names Also known as European lime, tilleul and linden. Sources Grows in Europe and eastern Asia. Appearance Generally straight grained with a fine, uniform texture and medium luster. Creamy-white heartwood and sapwood. Physical Props Soft, light, low in strength, shock resistance and decay resistance. Poor for steam bending. Working Props Works well with sharp machine or hand tools and is excellent for carving (soft and resists splitting). Glues, screws, nails, stains, and finishes. Uses Valued for butcher blocks, food containers and eating utensils (does not impart stain or odor). Also used for toys, novelties, cooperage, pattern making, artificial limbs, bobbins, broom and brush handles, carvings, musical instruments, venetian blinds, ship and airplane models, core stock, and decorative veneer.