Basswood Trees Information


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' website states that the American basswood tree (Tilia americana) has multiple uses. The odorless wood of this tree is lightweight. This makes it among the best choices for food packing boxes and crates. Its flowers have nectar that bees turn into an exceptional type of honey, and the basswood tree is among the finest types of shade trees, especially for large, open areas where it has room to grow.


The basswood tree averages about 70 feet in height, but some may exceed 100 feet. The leaves range from 4 to 8 inches long and possess a wide, heart-shaped appearance. The flowers, about 1/3 inch in diameter, turn into small, woody nutlets in late summer, are round and exist in clusters.


The geographic range of basswood extends from as far north as Maine to as far south as northwestern parts of North Carolina. The western boundary of basswood is in states such as Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, where the tree grows in those states' far eastern portions. Basswood exists through all of Minnesota, into the Great Lakes states and into southern sections of eastern Canada.

Growing Conditions

Dry conditions are the enemy of the basswood because this species requires moist soil. The ground should never be swampy or waterlogged, but it must be sufficiently wet for the basswood to thrive. The tree requires an area receiving full sun or slight shade. The seeds of basswood are notorious for not germinating, according to the FloriData website, making transplanting basswood seedlings purchased from a nursery the best option for someone who wants basswood trees.


Basswood flowers are creamy white and are what botanists describe as perfect, meaning the flowers have male reproductive parts as well as female ones. The flowers emerge in the last weeks of June or the first weeks of July, and bees flock to the tree, lured by the tasty nectar, which they can turn into honey renowned for its superior flavor. Basswood flowers have a fine aroma and, although small, have greenish-yellow bracts that show up against the tree's dark leaves.


Drawbacks of having a basswood tree include the fact that the tree attracts bees, which can be a dilemma for people with allergies to bee stings. Also, basswood is at the mercy of Japanese beetles, which can strip a basswood tree of its foliage in just a few days when the insect occurs in large numbers. Basswood has the ability to propagate itself through suckers, which develop from the root system, making their removal usually necessary.

Keywords: American basswood tree, basswood bees honey, basswood growing conditions

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John has written thousands of articles for Demand Studios, Associated Content and The Greyhound Review. A Connecticut native, John has written extensively about sports, fishing, and nature.