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 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
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 is an ovoid, hard, dry nut, 1/4 inch in diameter, usually bearing 2 seeds.
The twigs are slender, sometimes zigzagging,
pubescent at first, becoming glabrous. The pith is white and homogeous.
The bark is thick, gray to brown or
reddish-brown, deeply furrowed, with flattened ridges.
The American basswood grows best on
moist, well-drained soils of mixed woodlands throughout eastern North America.
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.
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