American Basswood (Tilia americana)


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Common Name: American linden  
Type: Tree
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Central and eastern North America
Zone: 2 to 8
Height: 50.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Pale yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade.  Tolerates some drought.  Prefers moist, fertile, well-drained loams.  Generally tolerant of air pollution and urban conditions.  Tilia americana, commonly called American basswood or American linden, is a medium to large deciduous tree which typically grows to 50-80’ (infrequently to over 100’) tall with an ovate-rounded crown.

Trees are found in both dry upland areas as well as moist, low woods. In Missouri, this tree typically occurs in rich woods, slopes, bluff bases and along streams throughout the State. This tree is noted for its (a) cymes of fragrant, pale yellow, late spring flowers, (b) small nutlets which follow the flowers and ripen by late summer, (c) mucilaginous sap, (d) noticeable winter buds, and (e) large ovate dark green leaves (to 6” long) with acuminate tips, serrate margins, often silvery undersides and uneven cordate bases. Flowers bloom in June in 5-10 flowered cymes. Each cyme droops from a showy, papery, narrow, leaf-like bract (to 5” long) where it is attached to the bract at a point somewhere between the base and midpoint.

When a tree is in full bloom, bees often visit in such abundant numbers that humming can be heard many feet from the tree. Honey made from the nectar of these flowers is a prized gourmet item. Flowers have also been used to make tea. Syrup can be made from the sweet tree sap. Fall color is an undistinguished pale green to pale yellow. Winter twigs and buds are sometimes tinged with red.


Handsome ornamental shade tree or street tree.

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