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Tilia americana var. americana

Tilia americana L. var. americana

American Basswood, Linn, American Linden, White Basswood

Tiliaceae (Linden Family)

Synonym(s): Tilia americana var. neglecta, Tilia glabra, Tilia neglecta, Tilia palmeri, Tilia truncata, Tilia venulosa


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Inflorescence: Cyme
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 100 feet tall.
Fruit: Brown, nut-like.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Flowers are fragrant, yellowish-white, in drooping, 6-20-flowered clusters hanging on a stalk that diverges from near the center of an oblong, leaflike and strongly veined bract 5-10 cm long.


USA: CT , DC , DE , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SD , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB


Use Ornamental: Basswood is planted as a shade tree or ornamental. For sites of smaller size or with compacted soils, other Tilia species may be more suitable.
Use Wildlife: Basswood is good browse and buds are important for birds and deer in winter. Seeds are eaten by birds, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks and other 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).
Use Food: Basswood is a prolific nectar producer and pollination by honeybees results in a choice grade of honey. Native Americans used fresh basswood sap, which contains moderate amounts of sugar, as a watery drink or boiled it into syrup. They also ate young basswood leaves and used the cambium for soups and breads.
Use Medicinal: Various medicinal uses were made of leaf and bark extracts, and Iroquois used freshly cut bark as an emergency bandage for wounds.
Use Other: Basswood is said to be a soil-enriching species, bringing calcium and magnesium up from deep in the soil profile and depositing it in leaf litter on the surface. The inner bark is used for the “bast,” for rope, baskets, mats, fish nets, and baskets, etc. Basswood is still valued for its soft, light, easily worked wood, especially for turned items and hand carving. It once was the material of choice for prosthetic limbs, but these are now made from synthetics. Other uses have included boxes, toys, woodenware, drawing boards, veneer, venetian blinds, excelsior, and pulp.
Warning: Over-browsing by high densities of white-tailed deer can result in basswood seedling height growth reduction or even complete loss of basswood from the stand. Mice and voles on oldfield sites may often girdle the stems, and rabbits also feed heavily on seedlings and small saplings. Basswood is easily decayed by fungi, and butt rot is an important factor in loss of merchantable timber.
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 34 - Go Botany (2019) Native Plant Trust
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Tilia americana var. americana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Tilia americana var. americana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Tilia americana var. americana


Record Modified: 2023-01-04
Research By: TWC Staff

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