American basswood, also known as American linden, is a large deciduous tree native to temperate North America. It is known for its elegant, heart-shaped leaves, dense shade, and fragrant flowers.
Today there are many American basswood trees throughout the Hadwen Arbortum. They can easily be seen along the Hidden Spring Trail and Larch Lane.
History at Hadwen
American basswood was planted by Hadwen at least as early as 1882. In his lecture to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1900, he said “the American Linden or Basswood is coming to be esteemed a popular ornamental tree, by far superior to the European sorts. It surpasses all others in size and foliage and the abundance of its flowers, whose fragrance fills the atmosphere.” In a 1978 tree survey, it was noted that large stands of American lindens were still present.
Detailed Species Information
American basswood, also commonly known as American linden, is a deciduous tree in the family Malvaceae native to temperate North America. A fast-growing, large tree, American basswood typically reaches 60–80 feet (18–24 meters) in height. The form of the tree is usually a domed crown with wide-spreading branches, and the light gray or brown bark has thin fissures. The simple heart-shaped leaves are alternately arranged on the stem with coarse serrations along the margin and an uneven base at the stem, which is characteristic of lindens. The flowers of the American basswood are small and off-white, hanging in small drooping clusters that are extremely fragrant. The fruits are small, off-white nutlets.
Commonly, American basswood is found in deciduous forests with sugar maples in the rich, moist soils of slopes or even the edges of swamps. Its flowers provide a critical source of nectar for many insects, and its leaves, seeds, and bark are consumed by many small mammals and caterpillars. The wood of the American basswood is lightweight and workable. It is not particularly commercially important but is a common choice for constructing electric guitars and other instruments. In landscaping, American basswood is a common choice for shade trees and specimen plantings due to its dense shade, pleasing form, and fragrance.