American basswood (Tilia americana)

american basswood leaves

Click on the images help you identify an American basswood.



Height 60' to 80', diameter 12" to 36"; trunk often continues straight into top of dense rounded crown.


Light gray, smooth; becoming dark gray with shallow, vertical ridges.


Simple, alternate on stem, length 3" to 6", nearly as wide, heart shaped, saw toothed, sharp pointed at tip; at maturity thick, shiny, green above, paler underneath, turns yellow to orange in autumn.

Fruit (seed)

Rounded, nutlike drupe covered with short, thick, brownish wool, attached in clusters to a leafy bract that later acts as a wing to carry seeds away on the wind; fruit often hangs on tree long into winter. Flowers are fragrant, and from them honey is made by bees. Difficult to propagate from seed.


Common throughout the state except in the extreme northeastern part; grows chiefly on rich, water-deposited soil; shade tolerant.

Wood uses

Light, soft, tough, not durable, light brown with scarcely distinguishable sapwood; used for carving and in the manu-facture of paper pulp, wooden ware, furniture, trunks, crating, drawing boards, kegs, barrel heads, and lumber. Basswood trees are recommended for ornamental plantings.

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