American Basswood

Tilia americana L.



All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.

Family:  Tiliaceae

Native or Introduced to Illinois:  native 

Natural Habit in Illinois:  moist woodlands; ravines; upland woods

Leaf:  The leaves are alternate, simple, rounded or heart-shaped, with toothed margins and with one side of the base less rounded than the other. They are dull green above and lighter green beneath. They vary quite widely in size from 4 to 7 inches long.

Flower:  The tree blossoms in late May or June, and the blossoms are a favorite with bees, yielding large quantities of honey.

Fruit:  The tree has a very distinct fruit. It is an open cluster of hard nutlets borne on a stem which comes from the center of a narrow, elliptical, leaflike wing.

Twig:   The twigs are smooth and light brown to gray in color.

Bark:  The bark is light or silvery gray, and smooth or finely ridged on branches and young trunks.  On older trunks the bark breaks into long, medium-narrow ridges and furrows, dark gray to almost black on the surface.

Size/Form/Shape:  The basswood is a large, wide-spreading, round-topped tree with dense foliage.

County Distribution Map for Illinois:  


Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites: