Carolinian
and Deciduous Forest Trees

of Southern Ontario

Basswood
Tilia Americana

Location in Ontario: Basswood grows throughout the Deciduous Forest Region, and northward.


Open grown Basswood trees, Rock Point Provincial Park

Genus Tilia: Leaves are simple and alternate. They are heart shaped with asymmetrical bases. Flowers are perfect and fragrant. A large bract is joined to clusters of flowers and fruit. Fruit is round and nut-like with a single seed. The wood is soft and weak. Basswood is the only Tilia species in Ontario.

Habitat: Basswood is very adaptable and grows in a wide variety of habitats; swamps, sand dunes, flood plains or rocky outcrops.

Landscape Use: Basswood is a large, fast growing shade tree with an attractive shape. It has pretty flowers and interesting fruit. It is often planted along urban streets.

TREE FACT: Basswood is also known as American Linden, or "Lime", an English variation of Linden. The name Basswood is a version of "Bastwood", referring to the use of the inner bark, or bast, for baskets and rope.


Basswood growing along the shore of Pelee Island.

Leaves: The leaves are alternate and roughly heart shaped, but asymmetrical. The edges have sharp  teeth. Basswood leaves have high contents of nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

FALL COLOUR WATCH:  yellow and brown

Size: The is a large tree, growing up to 35 metres and living to 200 years old.

Bark: The bark is grayish-brown, with flat-topped ridges. It is often covered with neat rows of holes drilled by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.


The flat-topped ridges of Basswood with Sapsucker holes.

Flowers: Basswood is monoecious with perfect flowers. The flowers are fragrant and creamy yellow, in groups on long stems. Flowers appear in early summer.


Close-up of flowers

Fruit: Round, greenish nutlets with brown hairs hang in clusters attached to a long bract (a special type of leaf). The seeds appear in summer and mature in October. Basswood begin to produce seeds after about 15 years of growth, and produce good seed crops most years.


Bracts and fruit in fall

Wood: The wood is light and soft.
Specific Gravity: 0.32
Janka Hardness: 410 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

TREE FACT:  Basswood's soft wood is prized for wood carving.


Basswood flowers covering the pavement, Rondeau Provincial Park

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