Random Plant: American basswood

Basswood tree (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae) photographed 05/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

American basswood (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae) is recognizable from a distance thanks to the interesting pattern of the leaves overhead.  The large, thin leaves allow some sunlight to pass through them, and variable leaf density presents the unique mottled appearance shown above.  Each individual leaf is several inches across and heart-shaped:

Basswood tree (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae) photographed 05/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

As I’ve mentioned before, basswood is commonly attacked by the basswood leaf mining beetle (Coleoptera:  Chrysomelidae:  Baliosus nervosus).  Despite this pest, basswood flourishes across moist lowlands in eastern North America (Kershner et al. 2008).  Since it’s relatively light and soft and easy to carve, it has some commercial use.  I’ve most often seen it used for low-end solid-body guitars.

Literature cited:

Kershner, B., D. Mathews, G. Nelson, and R. Spellenberg.  2008.  National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America.  Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., New York, NY.


About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions, Random Plant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Random Plant: American basswood

  1. cvarb says:

    Great – I found another tree geek! Basswood is a great forest tree; I find it does poorly in many landscapes, especially developments and shopping malls!


  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    It does seem rather delicate, especially with the insect pests that plague it. It’s pretty common along the banks of the River Raisin here in southeast Michigan, however.


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