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Tilia americana - L.

Common Name American Basswood, Carolina basswood, Basswood, AmericanBasswood, American Linden
Family Tiliaceae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards Frequent consumption of the tea made from the flowers may cause heart damage[222].
Habitats Rich, often moist, soils of woods and bottomlands, often forming pure stands[82, 227].
Range Central and Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Florida, west to Texas and Manitoba.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Tilia americana American Basswood, Carolina basswood, Basswood,  AmericanBasswood, American Linden

Tilia americana American Basswood, Carolina basswood, Basswood,  AmericanBasswood, American Linden


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Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Oval, Pyramidal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Tilia americana is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Sap
Edible Uses: Chocolate  Sweetener  Tea

Young leaves - raw or cooked[257]. A mild flavour and a tender but mucilaginous texture, they are very nice in salads[K]. The leaves can be cooked as greens[257]. Sap - obtained from next to the bark and used as a refreshing drink[105, 161, 177]. It can also be concentrated into a syrup and used as a sweetener[183]. Flowers - raw. They can be added to salads[183]. The flowers are used as a tea substitute. They are sweet and fragrant[183]. A very good chocolate substitute is made from a paste of the ground fruits and flowers[2, 105, 177, 183]. Trials on marketing the product failed because the paste decomposes readily[2].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antispasmodic  Demulcent  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Dysentery  Ophthalmic  Poultice  Sedative  

A tea made from the inner bark is applied to burns - it soothes and softens the skin[213]. It is taken internally in the treatment of lung complaints, dysentery, heart burn and weak stomach[222, 257]. The bark is diuretic[257]. An infusion has been taken to promote urination[257]. A decoction of the bark, mixed with cornmeal, has been used as a poultice to draw out boils[222, 257]. A tea made from the fresh or dried flowers is antispasmodic, diaphoretic and sedative[226]. It is used in the treatment of hypertension, hardening of the arteries, digestive complaints associated with anxiety, feverish colds, respiratory catarrh, migraine etc[238]. Lime flowers are said to develop narcotic properties as they age and so they should only be harvested when freshly opened[238]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as an eyewash[257]. A poultice of the leaves has been used in the treatment of burns and scalds, broken bones and swollen areas[257]. A tea or tincture made from the leaves, flowers and buds has traditionally been used for nervous headaches, restlessness and painful digestion[222]. Use with caution, see notes above on toxicity. A decoction of the roots and the bark has been taken in the treatment of internal haemorrhaging[257]. A decoction of the roots has been used as a vermifuge to rid the body of worms[257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fibre  Shelterbelt  Wood

A tough fibre is obtained from the inner bark[46, 227]. The bark is soaked in water then boiled. It is then rubbed on a stick to separate the fibres which can then be used for making thread for sewing, fine yarn for weaving bags, clothing etc and cordage for making nets, shoes, twine, mats etc[189, 226, 227, 257]. A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting[200]. Wood - soft, straight grained, light, weak, not durable, easily worked, resistant to splitting, it holds nails badly, holds glue, paint and lacquer well, seasons well but shrinks considerably. It weighs 28lb per cubic foot[227], is odourless and bland-tasting[226]. A commercially important timber in its native range[226, 229]. The white wood is excellent for turning and carving, it is used for making woodenware such as spoons, cheap furniture, pulp etc[46, 82, 171, 227, 229]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Pollard, Screen, Specimen, Street tree. Prefers a good moist loamy alkaline to neutral soil but succeeds on slightly acid soils[11, 200]. Grows poorly on any very dry or very wet soils[200]. Dislikes exposed positions[200]. Another entry in the same book says that it is fairly wind tolerant[200]. Succeeds in full sun or semi-shade[188]. A fast-growing and moderately long-lived tree in the wild, it starts producing seed when about 15 years old and continues for at least another 85 years[229]. It is generally unsatisfactory in Britain, preferring a continental climate and growing more slowly and not usually producing fertile seed in areas with cool summers[200]. Grows best in a woodland situation, young plants tolerate a reasonable level of side shade[200]. They are highly shade-tolerant according to another report[226]. Trees respond well to coppicing, sending up lots of suckers from the roots[226]. Lime trees tend to hybridise freely if other members of the genus are growing nearby[238]. If growing plants from seed it is important to ensure the seed came from a wild source or from an isolated clump of the single species[K]. A good bee plant[61, 159]. Trees are usually attacked by aphids which cover the ground and the leaves with a sticky honeydew[188]. Quite tolerant of root disturbance, semi-mature trees up to 5 metres tall have been transplanted successfully. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features:North American native, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A sprouting standard sending up shoots from the base [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2]. The root pattern is a tap root similar to a carrot going directly down [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - much of the seed produced in Britain is not viable, cut a few seedcases open to see if there is a seed inside[80]. If possible, obtain fresh seed that is ripe but has not as yet developed a hard seed coat and sow it immediately in a cold frame. It may germinate in the following spring though it could take 18 months[80]. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate. It has a hard seed coat, embryo dormancy and a hard coat on the pericarp. All these factors mean that the seed may take up to 8 years to germinate[80]. One way of shortening this time is to stratify the seed for 5 months at high temperatures (10°c at night, up to 30°c by day) and then 5 months cold stratification[80]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in spring just before the leaves unfurl. Takes 1 - 3 years[78]. Suckers, when formed, can be removed with as much root as possible during the dormant season and replanted immediately[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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