American Basswood, Tilia americana

American Basswood

Tilia americana

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Medium
Color: Yellow
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 50 to 80 feet
Spacing: 50 feet

American Basswood (Tilia americana) or American Linden is a medium to large deciduous tree which typically grows to 50-80 feet 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. 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 inches 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.. Fall color is an undistinguished pale green to pale yellow. Winter twigs and buds are sometimes tinged with red.

The blooming period occurs during the early summer for about 2 weeks. Fertile flowers are replaced by small nutlets about ¼-inch across. At maturity during the fall, the nutlets are gray-brown, globoid, and canescent; they are dry, hard, and usually single-seeded. Because of the persistent bracts on their peduncles, the nutlets are distributed by the wind, although they usually do not travel far from the mother tree. The woody root system consists of widely spreading lateral roots. The deciduous leaves become yellow to yellowish green during the fall.

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 intolerant of air pollution and urban conditions.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Powdery mildew, leaf spots and cankers may occur.
  Spider mites can do significant damage, particularly in hot, dry periods.
  A mature tree casts considerable shade that can kill grass and other vegetation around the base of its trunk.
  Syrup can be made from the sweet tree sap.
  Flowers have also been used to make tea
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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