American Basswood

Tilia americana    (also known as American Linden)

American Basswood

The American Basswood is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching a height of 60 to 120 ft. with a trunk diameter of 3–5 ft. at maturity.  It grows faster than many North American hardwoods, often twice the annual growth rate of American Beech and many birch species. Total life expectancy is around 200 years, with flowering and seeding generally occurring between 15 and 100 years. [4]

American Basswood, the northernmost basswood species, is a handsome shade and street tree. When flowering, the trees are full of bees, hence the name Bee-tree; this species is favored by bees over others and produces a strongly flavored honey. [1]

American Basswood Leaves

The foliage and flowers are both edible, though many prefer only to eat the tender young leaves. It is a beneficial species for attracting pollinators as well. Bees produce excellent honey with a mildly spicy flavor from its blossoms. [4]

Identification and Description

American Basswood trunk and bark

The crown is domed, the branches spreading, often pendulous. The bark is gray to light brown, and develops scaly ridges as it matures. The roots are large, deep, and spreading. [4]

Compound, odd-pinnate, dark yellowish-green leaves each to 6-12 long have 5-7, toothed, ovate-lanceolate leaflets. Leaflets grow 3-6” long. Leaves turn an attractive yellow in fall. [2]

Supported Wildlife and Other Uses

Basswood is good browse and buds are important for birds and deer in winter. Fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals. The wood decays easily and produces many cavities (especially in trees past 120 years of age), which are used by cavity-nesting animals (wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers, other birds, and small mammals). [2]

Basswood is a prolific nectar producer and pollination by honeybees results in a choice grade of honey.  [2] it is of special value to native bees and honey bees. [1]

Champion American Basswood Trees in Atlanta and Georgia

Atlanta Champion Trees – full list
Georgia Champion Trees – full list
Intown Hawk – Condensed Atlanta and Georgia List

References and Additional Information

[1]  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Tilia americana
[2]  Missouri Botanical Garden: Tilia americana
[3]  UDSA Natural Resources Conservation Service: Plant Fact Sheet:  Basswood
[4]  Wikipedia: Tilia americana