American basswood or Linden is a native deciduous tree. The northernmost Tilia species, it is a large, rapid-growing tree of eastern and central hardwood woodlands. Best growth is in the central part of the range on deep, moist soils; development is vigorous from sprouts as well as seed. American basswood is an important timber tree, especially in the Great Lakes States. The soft, light wood has many uses in wood products. The tree is also well known as a honey-tree, and the seeds and twigs are eaten by wildlife. It is commonly planted as a shade tree in urban areas of the eastern states where it is called American linden.
Mature heights range from 75 to 130 feet (23-40 m) with diameter ranges from 36 to 48 inches (91-122 cm). The bark of mature trees is up to 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick at the base of the trunk. The bark is furrowed into narrow, flat-topped, firm ridges with characteristic horizontal cracks; young trees have smooth, thin bark. The inflorescence is a drooping axillary cyme. The fruit is dry, hard, indehiscent, subglobose to short-oblong, and is usually 0.2 to 0.28 inch (5-7 mm) in diameter, and bears one or two seeds.
These lovely basswoods are two of the original Morton Arboretum collection, from seeds planted in 1923 
Basswood seeds are eaten by mice, squirrels, and chipmunks, thus reducing the chances of seedling establishment. Many different insects attack basswood, but few serious insect problems exist. The linden borer (Saperda vestita) makes long, irregular tunnels, particularly at the base of the tree, and may damage weak, very young, or very old trees. Local infestations of defoliators may occur. The primary ones include the linden looper (Erannis tiliaria), basswood leafminer (Baliosus nervosus), spring cankerworm (Paleacrita vernata), fall cankerworm (Alsophila pometaria), whitemarked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma), gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), and forest tent caterpillar. In New England, American basswood is a highly preferred host for gypsy moth, while in southern Quebec, it was classified as intermediate in susceptibility to gypsy moth defoliation.
Special Uses - Basswood has relatively soft wood that works exceptionally well and is valued for hand carving and has many other uses including cooperage, boxes, veneer, excelsior, and pulp. Basswood is economically important for timber, especially in the Great Lakes States. The inner bark, or bast, can be used as a source of fiber for making rope or for weaving such items as baskets and mats. Basswood flowers produce an abundance of nectar from which choice honey is made. In fact, in some parts of its range basswood is known as the bee-tree. Throughout the Eastern United States, basswood is frequently planted along city streets. --USDA Forest Service Silvics Manual
1. www.eFloras.org , Flora of China, Tilia mongolica
2. Morton Arboretum acc. Acc. 2122-23*1 & 2 photos by Bruce Marlin
Family Tiliaceae - Basswoods, Lindens
50 genera and 400 species; widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, with relatively few species in temperate regions. Especially abundant in Southeast Asia and Brazil. The leaves of all the Tilias are heart-shaped and most are asymmetrical, and the tiny fruit, looking like peas, always hang attached to a ribbon-like, greenish bract.
Tree Encyclopedia | Tree Index | Tiliaceae Index
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