Tree Service Hampton Spotlight: Tilia americana

Tilia americana

TRADE NAME: American basswood, American linden

FAMILY: Malvaceae

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Ranges in Canada from southwestern New Brunswick and New England west in Quebec and Ontario to the southeast corner of Manitoba; south through eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas to northeastern Oklahoma; east to northern Arkansas, Tennessee, western North Carolina; northeast to New Jersey.

WOOD VALUE: Has relatively soft wood that works well and is valued for hand carving. The inner bark, or bast, can be used as a source of fiber for making rope or for weaving such items as baskets and mats. The wood is pale brown in color and sometimes nearly white or faintly tinged with red. It rots easily and old trees have many cavities that serve as nesting places for birds. Is economically important for timber, especially in the Great Lakes states.

OTHER USES: Its flowers produce an abundance of nectar from which choice honey is made. Is also frequently planted along city streets in eastern states.


  • Is a native deciduous tree. Mature heights range from 75 to 130 feet with diameter ranges from 36 to 48 inches.
  • The bark of mature trees is up to 1 inch thick at the base of the trunk. Is furrowed into narrow, flat-topped firm ridges with characteristic horizontal cracks.
  • Young trees have smooth, thin bark.
  • The fruit is dry, hard, indehiscent, subglobose to short-oblong, usually 0.2 to 0.28 inches in diameter and bears one or two seeds.
  • The root system is composed largely of lateral roots; it doesn’t usually form a taproot. Root depths are usually shallow relative to associated species’ root depths.
  • The tree crown is usually broad and rounded, but in close stands is more columnar.
  • The branches are small, weak and often pendulous.
  • Is moderately tolerant of shade. It achieves its highest densities in sugar maple-American basswood stands that are late successional to climax forests.
  • High densities of white-tailed deer can result in seedling height growth reduction, or even complete loss from stands due to overbrowsing.
  • On old-field sites, is often subject to damage from mice and voles girdling the stems. Rabbits also feed heavily on seedlings and small saplings. Seed predators include mice, squirrels and chipmunks.
  • Insect pests include the linden borer (which damages weak, very young or overmature trees) and the following defoliators: linden looper, American basswood leaf miner, spring cankerworm, fall cankerworm, white-masked tussock moth, gypsy moth and forest tent caterpillar. None of these pests are considered a serious threat.
  • Is easily decayed by fungi and butt rot is an important factor in loss of merchantable timber.
  • Is susceptible to many herbicides, but is resistant to 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.

Source: U.S. Forest Service (FS.Fed.US), USDA

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