Know tree leaves -3 Limes { Recognizing trees by their leaves}

Though among the earliest trees to impart their beauty in spring,they are also among the first to show the symptoms of change. All stages of this change are beautiful- for the changes which indicate the coming fall and the final departure from their arboreal mothers,though more rapid, by comparison with other tree foliage is at first slow to begin, in respect of the ordinary autumn colouration.

The colour advances at first with sufficient slowness to permit the full appreciation of the contrast of the various tints. 


Bursting buds of spring

Courtesy of Jonathan Billinger Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 generic license {geograph.org.uk}

The lime leaf is borne on relatively long stalks and the leaf blade is usually heart shaped at the base and sharply pointed at the apex,while the main body of the leaf is rounded in form. These general features vary in different individuals. Sometimes the depression at the base which makes the heart shape is deep and other times so shallow as to be barely perceptible. One of the two lobes which make the heart shape ordinarily descends  lower than the other sometimes on one side sometimes on the other.The edges of both lobes which may be said to be the bay of the depression lying between them ,are unindented, but the whole of the remainder of the leaf margin is finely and regularly toothed {Serrated}. When the base of the leaf is only slightly depressed it still bears no teeth.

The bright spring foliage of lime

Dals wildlifesite Image

Lime leaf and fruits

Dalswildlife image

The venation {network of veins} and colouring

The venation is very beautiful, and consists of a mid -vein and branch veins which fork from it to the margin,the two larger of these diverging at an acute angle-one at each side- from the base of the mid-vein and traversing nearly the entire length of the blade. The others diverging at acute angles from the Mid-vein,higher up and making for the top of the leaf.

All the principal veins are forked once or twice and give origin to a very elaborate and beautiful ramification-vein-lets running across the longitudinal veins in roughly parallel lines which take a general crescent shaped direction from side to side of the leaf,forming an appearance which can be plainly seen by the naked eye, like the meshes of a net.

The peculiar,and exceptionally beautiful golden green hue of the Lime foliage in spring changes in the height of  summer to a deeper and more sober shade of green.At this time the tree does not attract the same keen sight of its earlier beauty. However,this change does not last for long and  the attention is renewed by the relatively speedy arrival of its Autumn tints.

It does in fact appear to have an early autumn of its own because before the summer ends a slight russet tint appears on the tree. However, if individual lime leaves are examined,the general hue will be seen to derive from the presence of small yellowish blotches which can not be easily individualized, but appear to spread over and blend with normal green of the surface.

Along the course of the veins and veinlets the green the green retains its darker hue,darker,no doubt in appearance, by contrast with the suffusing yellow. This colour { which becomes the final hue of the lime }, like spots of subdued sunlight,commences in the spaces lying between the veinlets which traverse the leafy surface inside the lines of the principle veins which branch from the mid-stem of the leaf.

Here and there are blotches of withered dead tissue,brown in colour,and these contrast effectively with the yellow green of the leaf. As decay advances the colouring becomes more intensified. The spots of brown increase in size and in number. The yellow emerges from an indistinct hue into concentrated and independent blotches and patches of colour,which in conjunction with the darker brown are picturesquely disposed over the surface of the leaf--sometimes occurring  upon the margin-at the sides,apex or base-and sometimes mid-leaf. At times the yellow blotches occur independently of the brown ones. At other times they are merged into them. And sometimes this merging is very picturesque as when a patch of brown occurs in the centre of a patch of yellow-the dead surrounded by a dying portion. Occasionally a mottled appearance is displayed with the blending of brown,yellow and green in alternative blotches and then the effect.as far as individual leaves are concerned, is very picturesque. 

Lime tree in its autumnal glory

Courtesy of David Wright geograph.org.uk Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 generic license

Autumn lime

Courtesy of Fae Wikicommons. 

But the assemblage of lime leaves in the early stages of its autumnal colouring produces an effect that each individual leaf contributes to. An individual tree will often show nearly all the stages of decay and all the gradations of colour. Why the leafy colouring on one branch show symptoms of decay before another branch on the same tree is difficult to explain. Why particular twigs on the same branch or particular leaves on the same twig should show the advance of autumn  sometime before their fellows is not easy to understand.

However, the result contributes to the infinite variety which constitutes much to the charms of nature. The colouring is much affected by the weather  which may deepen or lessen the hues. The most influential of weather,is of course the sunshine. In the summer foliage for example the Lime only sees a change of shade produced by the sunlight.

What,under a cloudy sky, was but a mass of uniform green,becomes lighted up by  varying hues of green as the sunlight penetrates the leafy maze of the canopy. Yet it is only by close observation that we can see the various shades of green, but during the autumn the multiplication of colours and shades,dark green pale green,fading green,orange,russet,yellow and brown, and the modification of shades of all these are powerfully affected by the advent of sunshine

Old linden {lime} trees. 

Courtesy of SiefkinDR Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 unported license

American Linden {Lime}tree

Courtesy of Wendy Cutler  from Vancouver Canada CC BY 20 generic license,uploaded by JoJan

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