american linden

Family:     Malvaceae 

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     18-40m (60-130ft)

Blooming: June - July


American Linden

Tilia americana  L. 

Stem: thick and deeply furrowed.  

Flowers: formed in hanging clusters.  These clusters are attached to a long, paddle-like greenish-yellow bract.  The flowers are small with five petals and sepals.

Leaves: alternately arranged on the stem.  The underside of the leaves sometimes has tufts of hair present.  Leaves are relatively large with usual size of 7-15 cm long and 7-12 cm wide.  They are heart shaped and asymmetrical at the base with a pointed tip.  The leaves are toothed.

Sun:  Full sun to shade 

Comments: American linden, also called American basswood, is common throughout landscapes and natural areas in Northwest Indiana.  Once cracked open, the seeds have been reported to be made into a chocolate substitute paste. 

Pultzer Prize winning American poet, Theodore Roethke wrote in his poem "The Far Field",

All finite things reveal infinitude: 
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow, 
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree : 
The pure serene of memory in one man, --
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.

Butterfly/Moth host plant: the larvae use American linden as a host:  Yellow-Banded Underwing (Catocala cerogama)

photos by Nathanael Pilla

Sassafras albidum tree
American Linden Bark
Tilia seeding
Linden flower tilia

Etymology: Tilia is possibly from the Greek word for elm, ptelea, and is the Latin name for, Linden.  Americana simply means "from America".