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. "This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
- Chicago area
- North America
- Residential and parks
- City parkway
- Wide median
- 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
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Highly susceptible to ice damage
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Spring blossoms
- Fragrant flowers
- Persistent fruit/seeds
- Showy flowers
- Early summer
- Mid summer
- Early fall
- Mid fall
- Game mammals
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
Best in moist, well-drained soils. Adaptable to alkaline soils.
Disease, pests, and problems
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the Chicago region
Bark color and texture
Gray, ridged and furrowed.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate, heart-shaped leaves ranging 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, round nutlets, accompanied by a long strap-like bract.
Cultivars and their differences
“These plants are cultivars of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."
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 considered a separate species, is now considered 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 covered with dense hairs, giving a white appearance.