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American Basswood

(Tilia americana)

Description

  • Leaves coarsely toothed – simple

  • Scientific name: Tilia Americana L.

  • Broadly oval leaves – turn yellow in fall – heart-shaped

  • Grows 60 to 80 feet tall

  • Conical in its younger form, the crown becomes rounded with age

  • Tends to sprout at base. Frequently has two or more trunks

  • When flowering, trees are full of bees, hence the name “Bee Tree”

  • Deciduous

Habitat

  • Upland deciduous woods, north and east slopes of mesic ravines

Range

  • Found from Canada to Alabama, west to Texas, Kansas, and North Dakota

History

  • Native peoples made ropes and woven mats from the tough fibrous inner bark as well as nets, clothing, and thread.

  • Native Americans drank Basswood sap as a watery drink or boiled it into syrup.

  • All parts of Basswood are useable, and most are also edible: flowers, seeds, buds, and sap.

Current use

  • The soft white wood is useful for making food boxes, yardsticks, furniture, and Venetian blinds.

  • Used by wood carvers.

  • Provides abundant nectar for insects.

  • The seeds are eaten by chipmunks, mice, squirrels, and songbirds.

  • Rabbits and voles eat the bark.


Mission

  • How many different insects and birds can you find on the Basswoods along the trail?

  • What do Basswood flowers taste like?

  • Collect a Basswood leaf. What are the characteristics that make it a Basswood leaf?


Photo Reprinted with Permission, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

This page was created by a Master Naturalist volunteer. The Minnesota Master Naturalist program is sponsored by University of Minnesota Extension.