Raising Your Basswood (American Linden)

About this Tree

         This tree is a native Basswood (Tilia americana).  The tree grows to 60 to 80 foot in height with a spread that is 1/2 to 2/3 of height.  The tree has been used extensively as a street tree throughout the mid-west.  Like elm, it requires pruning when young to develop a strong central leader.

Michael Dirr describes the tree as  “A tall stately tree with numerous, slender, low hung, spreading branches; pyramidal in youth; at maturity the lower drooping down then up, forming a deep, ovate, oblong, or somewhat rounded crown.” (Adapted from Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Dirr, fifth edition.)

A Suitable Site  

         The growth rate is medium but soil conditions largely govern the rate.  The tree transplants readily and prefers moist deep fertile soils.  It tolerates partial shade.  The tree is subject to damage from foilage feeding insects, and can be defoliated by Japanese beetles. 

Observations from Audubon Park:

We have just begun to plant Basswoods, based on the health and beauty of the trees in Cave Hill.  Our first trees were planted in 2009, and were severely root bound and took a year to settle in.  Four out of five trees started growing well last year; one tree was moved because the site seemed too wet.  We will be planting smaller trees again this year.