This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The lime abounds in some forests in Russia. By means of maceration in water the fibrous portion of the bark is separated, and divides easily into thin layers. These are used for making ropes, cordage, sandals worn by the peasants, and mats, which Russia exports on a large scale, and which are used in different countries as packing material, and also for covers and carpets. The collection of the lime bark is thus effected: The trees are cut when they are from eight to sixteen years old, at a period when the sap is most active and the bark is detached. It is cut into longitudinal strips, which are first raised with a peculiar shaped knife, then torn off by the hand and laid out to dry. Two or three stripes are placed one upon the other for drying, and attached at each end to stakes, which keep them extended. In order to make use of them they are soaked in water, the different cortical layers then separate one from the other; the inner ones are most esteemed, the outer layers being thicker and less pliable. The strips thus detached from the trees are two or three metres in length. In some parts of Russia the entire population go to the forests in May and June, the time at which the bark separates with the greatest facility.
The villages are then almost deserted, all the inhabitants being occupied either in barking the lime trees, or in making the mats. The wood is immediately converted into charcoal. In some places the sap is evaporated for the sugar it contains.
The cordage made from the bark of the lime tree is used in some parts of France for buckets in wells, and to hang linen upon, which it never soils. It does not rot so readily as hempen cord, but lasts much longer. In Sweden fishermen make their nets from the inner layers of the bark. But the main use of this bark is for the manufacture of mats or matting. These are used to pack heavy and bulky goods, such as furniture, machines, etc. In England they are much sought after by gardeners, who use them in large quantities. The mats made in Russia are usually two metres long by about one metre in width. It is estimated that, on the average, 14,000,000 are made annually. The fourth part of these is exported, the rest are used in the interior. In 1853 England alone imported 657,000, at the price of 150 fr. per 100.
In France the lime is chiefly cultivated as an ornamental tree for parks, public gardens, etc., and it would not be thought of as likely to yield an industrial product. It is worth while, however, directing attention to the remarkably thick bark of this beautiful tree, which contains a large quantity of fibre. The Silver lime (Tilia argentea) is a magnificent tree, which produces a fine effect in gardens, with its leaves covered below with a silky-white cotton. This tree grows rapidly even in poor soil. The bark of the young branches is very thick. We suggest that trial be made of the bark of this tree with a view to the manufacture of paper. The ease with which the bark is detached, and its abundant fibre, deserve attention. We cannot too strongly urge those interested in these questions to make experiments.
We ought to add that the bark of the silver lime, used with a solution of carbonate of soda to separate the filaments, yields large quantities of mucilage, which it is very difficult to get rid of. This product might also probably be utilized. - From " Etudes sur les fibres vegetates textiles employees dans Industrie" by M. Vetittart.