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American Basswood, A Common Tree in North America

Tilia americana, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America


American basswood is a large and rapid-growing tree of eastern and central North America. The tree frequently has two or more trunks and vigorously sprouts from stumps as well as seed. American basswood is an important timber tree, especially in the Great Lakes States. It is the northernmost basswood species. The soft, light wood has many uses as wood products. The tree is also well known as a honey or bee-tree, and the seeds and twigs are eaten by wildlife. It is commonly planted as a shade tree in urban areas of the eastern states where it is called American linden.

The Silviculture of American Basswood

American Basswood
Basswood has relatively soft wood that works exceptionally 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. Basswood flowers produce an abundance of nectar from which choice honey is made. In fact, in some parts of its range basswood is known as the bee-tree. Throughout the Eastern United States, basswood is frequently planted along city streets.

The Images of American Basswood

American Basswood
UGA, Paul Wray, Forestryimages.com
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of basswood. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Malvales > Tiliaceae > Tilia americana L. American Basswood is also commonly called basswood, bee-tree, American linden.

The Range of American Basswood

Range of American Basswood
American basswood ranges 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; and northeast to New Jersey.

American Basswood at Virginia Tech Dendrology

Leaf: Alternate, simple, ovate to cordate, 5 to 6 inches long, with serrate margins, pinnately veined, base is unequally cordate, green above and paler below.

Twig: Moderately stout, zigzag, green (summer) or red (winter); terminal bud is false, each very plump with one side bulging out disproportionately. Buds are edible but very mucilaginous.

Fire Effects on American Basswood

"Fire wounding of basswood increases susceptibility to butt rot: of trees with basal fire wounds, 100 percent of basswood stems had butt rot, resulting in a cull rate of 39 percent."

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