Linden, American (Basswood)
Tilia americana, Deciduous
American linden, also known as basswood, is native to the
Missouri River basin of eastern Nebraska and extends along the Niobrara River reaching as far west as the Black Hills of western South
Where To Grow
Size at Maturity
|Tree Height||Tree Spread|
Linden is known for its large, heart-shaped leaves that cast a heavy shade. Its conical habit and downward branching make it difficult to use along streets and high activity areas. In fact, one of the best ways to use linden is as a border planting or as a backdrop where its low branches are left intact to reach the ground.
Basswood is good browse and buds are important for birds and deer in winter. Fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals. The wood decays easily and produces many cavities (especially in trees past 120 years of age), which are used by cavity-nesting animals (wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers, other birds, and small mammals). Basswood is a prolific nectar producer and pollination by honeybees results in a choice grade of honey.
Two other species of linden deserve mention here. Tilia cordata (Littleleaf Linden) is native to northern Europe and western Asia and is similar to American linden, but with smaller leaves and a more dense, conical growth habit. Cultivars that are commonly planted include ‘Greenspire’, ‘Glenleven’, and ‘Shamrock’.
Tilia tomentosa (Silver Linden) is
also very similar in shape and habit to American linden. Its name is derived from its very attractive two-toned leaves - the upper
surface of which is a dark, glossy green, while the underside is a pubescent silvery-white. It can be one of the most eye-catching
trees encountered in the landscape.
- Nebraska’s champion American linden growing in Albion has a trunk circumference of almost 21' and a canopy spread of over 70’.
- One of the great pleasures of early summer is to smell the sweet fragrance of lindens in flower. A few trees can bathe an entire block in their sweet aroma.
- These trees make great natural forts for kids to play in!