Tiliaceae
The Basswood or Linden Family
 
 
    The basswood family includes 35 genera and about 300 species of tropical and temperate plants.  For eastern North America, taxonomists have differed greatly in their interpretations of the Tilia genus.  The number of named species varies from 1 to about 16, the delineations based on differences in the amount, kind, and distribution of pubescence on leaves and twigs.  For simplicity, we will follow the interpretation that the genus in eastern North America is composed of a single highly variable species, Tilia americana.
 
 

 Click on the links below for an introduction to a tree of this family:
 
American basswood
 
 
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Tilia americana
American basswood
 
 

Habit

    The American basswood is a moderately large deciduous tree, Loblolly-bay is an attractive evergreen tree, 60-80 feet in height, 1-3 feet in diameter.  It has a long, clear, somewhat buttressed bole, and a spreading root system.
 

Leaves

    Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves variable in size, variable in shape, mostly oval-shaped or heart-shaped, with an acute apex.  Leaf bases are irregular, some are equilateral, others inequilateral.  Leaf margins are serrate.  Leaf surfaces are dark green above, paler below, often with whitish, grayish, tan or brown pubescence.  Petioles are 1/4 to 1/2 the length of the leaf blades.
 

Flowers
 
    The flowers of this tree are perfect, yellow, and are in clusters on drooping, pubescent stalks, which are suspended from a leaf-like bract.
 

Fruit
 
    Fruit is an ovoid, hard, dry nut, 1/4 inch in diameter, usually bearing 2 seeds.
 

Twigs

    The twigs are slender, sometimes zigzagging, pubescent at first, becoming glabrous.  The pith is white and homogeous.
 

Bark

    The bark is thick, gray to brown or reddish-brown, deeply furrowed, with flattened ridges.
 

Habitat

    The American basswood grows best on moist, well-drained soils of mixed woodlands throughout eastern North America.
 

Use

    The wood of this tree is of excellent quality and is used for many puposes, notably for drawing boards, boxboards, furniture, plywood, and interior trim.
 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
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Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 

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