American basswood is native to the Chicago area and is often used as a specimen or dense shade tree. Its heart-shaped leaves and fragrant flowers in June make it especially attractive for people, while songbirds and blue jays are attracted to its seeds and use the tree for shelter.
- Chicago area
- North America
- City parkway
- Wide median
- Residential and parks
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Zone 8
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Highly susceptible to ice damage
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Persistent fruit/seeds
- Fragrant flowers
- Showy flowers
- Spring blossoms
- Early summer
- Game mammals
- Small mammals
Size and Form
This is a large, native tree growing 60 to 80 feet tall and 30 to 60 feet wide. Shape is pyramidal in youth, changing to oval or rounded with age.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in moist, well-drained soils. Adaptable to alkaline soils.
Disease, pests, and problems
Aphids, Japanese beetles, linden borer are possible insect problems.
Anthracnose and Verticillium wilt are possible fungal problems.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the Chicago region
Attracts birds & butterflies
Attracts songbirds and bluejays; the birds use the tree for its seeds and shelter.
Bark color and texture
Gray, ridged and furrowed.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate, heart-shaped leaves rangng from 4 to 8 inches long. Margins are coarsely toothed. Summer color is dark green above and lighter green on the lower surface. Fall color pale yellow.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Creamy yellow flowers in hanging clusters (5 to 10 flowers per cluster) in early summer. Each cluster is accompanied by a long, strap-shaped bract. Very fragrant.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruits are small, accompanied by a long strap-like bract.
Cultivars and their differences
American Sentry® (Tilia americana 'MckSentry'): This cultivar has a very symmetrical (pyramidal) canopy. Grows 45 feet high and 30 feet wide. Reported to have some resistance to Japanese beetle.
Redmond (Tilia americana 'Redmond'): 'Redmond' is a dense, pyramidal cultivar. (Formerly classified as Tilia x euchlora 'Redmond').
var. heterophylla (Tilia americana var. heterophylla): This tree, once conidered a separate species, is now considerd a variety of the American linden. It is known as white basswood or beetree linden. It is very similar to American linden, except that the lower sides of the leaves are coverd with dense hairs, giving a white appearance.