Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

American Basswood, American Linden, White Basswood

American Basswood, American Linden, White Basswood

Tilia americana var. americana


Full to part sun; moderately wet to medium moisture level; generally confined to sandy loams, loams or silt loams; pH adaptable but occurs more often on less acidic to neutral soils.

60-80 feet height by 30-50 feet spread; pale yellowish to creamy white flowers, ½ inch wide, in drooping clusters of 6-20 flowers in late spring to early summer; small nutlets, 1/3 to ½ inch long, with attached leafy wings in late summer.

Growth Rate: Generally medium but can be fast in good soil

Maintenance: Frequent disease and insect problems. Particularly susceptible to Japanese beetles.

Propagation: Very difficult from seed due to very low germination rates

Native Region: Primarily in Middle Tennessee and lightly in rest of the state

Tall, stately tree with numerous slender, low hung, spreading branches and a rounded crown.   Can be used for a lawn or shade tree but is somewhat intolerant of city conditions and should not be allowed to dry out. Due to the heavy shade it casts, grass usually does not grow right up to the trunk.  Showy fragrant flowers.  Fall color is an undistinguished pale green to pale yellow. Tends to sprout at the base, producing a clump of trees around what was the original tree. Occurs naturally along streams and in floodplain soils and also on slopes of hills, even in rocky places. Typical life is about 100 years but trees are known to live to 140-200 years. Very similar in appearance and habit to White Linden (T. americana var. heterophylla), the primary difference being in the appearance of the underside of the leaf which lacks the dense felt of white hairs. Cultivars available.

Valuable wildlife planting. Fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals. Provides good browse, and buds are important for deer and birds in winter. Wood decays easily and produces many cavities, especially in trees 100 years or older, which are used by cavity nesting animals. Prolific nectar producer, and honeybees use the nectar to produce a choice grade of honey. Also attracts butterflies and a wide variety of native bees.


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