American basswood (Tilia americana), a rapid-growing tree of eastern and central hardwood woodlands. Best growth is in the central part of the range on deep, moist soils; development is vigorous from sprouts as well as seed. American basswood is an important timber tree, especially in the Great Lakes States. The soft, light wood has many uses in wood products. The tree is also well known as a honey-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 TREE: The tree can reach a height of 120 ft (37 m), with a diameter of almost 5 ft (1.5 m). Basswood may grow to be more than 140 years old. The bark is initially dark green and shiny, developing to a grayish color with deep furrows. Basswood leaves are 4 to 6 inches in length and width; heart-shaped, margin coarsely toothed, sharp-pointed at tip; at maturity, thick, shiny green above and paler underneath.
WOOD CHARACTERISTICS: The sapwood of basswood is white to cream, while the heartwood is pale to reddish brown, with darker streaks. When dry, the wood has no characteristic odor or taste. The wood is soft and light, with a fine, even texture.
Basswood wood is soft and light; it is valued for hand carving and has many other uses including cooperage, boxes, veneer, excelsior, and pulp. Basswood is economically important for timber, especially in the Great Lakes States.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: The native range of basswood extends from southwestern New Brunswick and Maine west to southern Quebec, southern and western Ontario, Michigan, Minnesota, and southeastern Manitoba; south to eastern North Dakota, northern and eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, and northeastern Oklahoma; east to northern Arkansas, Tennessee, western North Carolina, and New Jersey.