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American Basswood
(Tilia americana L.) 

The American basswood also is known as American linden, white-wood, linn or beetree. The basswood grows chiefly in the mountains, where it is a common and valuable timber tree. It reaches heights of 70 to 80 feet or more and diameters of 2 to 3 feet. American basswood grows best in coves or bottomland sites where the soils are deep, moist and fertile, but it often is found on rocky slopes.

The bark on young trees ranges from green to grayish green, later breaking up into narrow ridges. The twigs are green to red and grow in a zigzag fashion.

The leaves are heart-shaped, uneven at the base, 3 to 6 inches long, thin and saw-toothed. The surfaces range from smooth on top and bottom to densely hairy on the lower surface.

American basswood flowers are yellowish-white and hang in drooping clusters that open in early summer. The flower stem is attached to the middle of a long, narrow, leaf-like bract. The flowers are very fragrant and bees use them to make choice-grade honey.

The fruits are hard and rounded, and they are about the size of a pea. They hang suspended in clusters from a stalk that is attached to a paper-thin, strap-shaped bract. Each fruit contains two seeds and is covered with a thick, reddish-brown fuzz. It remains attached in clusters to the leafy bract, which later acts as wing when it is carried away by the wind.

The light cream colored wood is lightweight, soft, tough but not durable. American basswood is used in the manufacture of pulp, woodenware, furniture, trunk frames, and many other products.

Carolina basswood grows rarely on well-drained soils in the Piedmont and southern Coastal Plain. Its leaves are somewhat smaller than those of American basswood, and they are densely covered with grayish or brownish hairs.

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