Linden, American (Basswood)

Linden, American (Basswood)

Tilia americanaDeciduous

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 Dakota. 

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Where To Grow

Linden is very adaptable! It can grow on almost any kind of soil, is drought tolerant, and can survive temperatures to 35 below zero.
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Suitable to plant throughout the state.
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Size at Maturity

Tree Height Tree Spread
40-70' 30-50'


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Tree Characteristics

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.

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Wildlife Benefits

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.

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Additional Considerations

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.

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Interesting Facts

  • 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!