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Introduction: This American native was used for centuries for its fibrous inner bark and fragrant flowers. It bears unique flowers and large, heart-shaped leaves. The tree is stately as a single specimen or when it is allowed to form a clump. Unless suckers are removed from the base of the tree, a clump of small trees rather than one large tree will form.


Culture: This tree will develop to its full potential if given full sun and rich, moist, well-drained soil. American linden will tolerate clay, a wide pH range and partial shade. It is noted for its adaptability. Japanese beetles feed heavily on its foliage. Its narrow crotches and soft wood can make the American linden susceptible to storm damage.

Botanical Information

  • Native habitat: Canada south to Alabama, west to Texas, Kansas and North Dakota.

  • Growth habit: Pyramidal when young then becoming rounded with maturity. Lower branches droop but are upturned at the ends.

  • Tree size: American linden grows to 60 to 80 feet tall with a spread of one-half to two-thirds the height at a medium rate. Soil condition and fertility strongly influence height and rate of growth.

  • Flower and fruit: Clusters of small, fragrant, pale yellow flowers hang midway from a long, leafy bract. Flowers become clusters of pea-sized nutlets.

  • Leaf: The characteristic 4- to 8-inch heart-shaped leaves are coarse-toothed, dark green above and paler green below. Fall color is not remarkable.

  • Hardiness: Winter hardy to USDA Zone 3b.

  • Additional information:
    American linden was cultivated in North America as early as 1752. The tree's flowers are attractive to bees and linden is an important source of excellent honey. Hollow linden trees found in the woods are often filled with honey. The attractive white wood of linden is often used for beehive honey frames. The fragrant flowers are also distilled for use in perfumes.

  • The tree's edible leaves have been used for livestock and human consumption and the fibrous, pliable inner bark (bast) was a significant source of fiber for ropes, cords, mats and nets used by Native Americans and early European settlers.Because it is a source of bast, the common name "basswood" is derived. Oil from the linden seed pod has been extracted and used as a substitute for olive oil.

  • The beautiful linden wood is white, odorless and good for carving. Members of the Iroquois tribe carved ceremonial masks on living trees, then cut them off and hollowed out the backs.

  • The Kentucky champion tree (110 feet tall) is in the Lexington Cemetery. American linden is best used as a park tree or for large landscapes. In Europe, various species of linden are pruned to form above-ground hedges.

  • The genus name, Tilia, is the Latin name for the linden or lime tree (no relation to the citrus tree). Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who developed the system of binomial nomenclature, took his name from a large linden tree on his family's property.

  • Send mail to with questions about this site. This site was last updated on October 17, 2018. Copyright 2018, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. An Equal Opportunity University. Site design : Academic Web Pages

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