Tilia americana

Leaves are alternate, simple, double-toothed with unequal leaf bases.

leaf, twig, bud, and fruit The basswood is a large, wide-spreading, round-topped tree with dense foliage. The basswood has been widely planted for street trees. The tree blossoms in late May or June, and the blossoms are a favorite with bees, yielding large quantities of honey.

The leaves are rounded or heart-shaped, with toothed margins and with one side of the base less rounded than the other. They are dull green above and lighter green beneath. They vary quite widely in size from 4 to 7 inched long.

leaf from undersideThe twigs are smooth and light brown to gray in color. The bark is light or silvery gray, and smooth or finely ridged on branches and young trunks. On older trunks the bark breaks into long, medium-narrow ridges and furrows, dark gray to almost black on the surface.

The tree has a very distinct fruit. It is an open cluster of hard nutlets borne on a stem which comes from the center of a narrow, elliptical, leaflike wing.

Leaves: -heart-shaped, fine-toothed edges, with uneven bases. Green and red give the leaves a purplish hue in fall.

Branching: alternate

Bark: grayish with tight even furrows

Height: 70 to 80 ft.

Trunk Diameter: 2 to 3 ft.

Longevity: matures in 90 to 140 yrs.

Tolerance: moderately tolerant

Range: eastern U.S., to southern Tennessee and western Virginia.

Fun Facts:

  • Timber widely used for wood carving.
  • Iroquois Indians made rope from the bark by soaking it in water for several days; it was then twisted into the desired form.
  • Often has stump sprouts at base of tree.
  • Knock on the trunk to hear a hollow sound.
  • Edible buds.


Identify Another Tree

This key was developed by "bt" in June 1982. It was put into HTML format by Stephen Ostermiller in July 1997. Copies of the entire guide in zip format that may be taken to camp on a laptop are available to those who write.