Cool Plant: September 3, 2009

American Linden
aka Basswood
Tilia americana

Habit Unripe Seeds

Species Native Range: East of the Mississippi
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9
Mature Size: 60 feet tall & 30 feet wide
Exposure: Full sun to light shade
Soil: Rich, moist but well-drained
Drought Tolerance: Fair to good
Ease of Culture: Easy

The American Linden tree is a lovely but little used shade tree with an upright habit, large heart-shaped, toothed leaves and drooping clusters of creamy white flowers in summer. In fall, the clusters of seeds begin as white and slowly change to tan giving the tree an interesting color and texture. I am at a loss as to why this tree is not used more often in commercial and residential landscapes. Several cultivars are available on the market including 'Redmond' and 'American Sentry'.

Use linden trees as shade or street trees in open lawn areas planted as specimens or in groups. Make sure to space and site the trees in locations where there is adequate space. Grouped trees should be planted approximately 30 feet apart.

Plant linden trees in full sun to light shade in rich organic soil that is moist but well-drained. All trees should be planted in the fall through winter (Sep-Feb) to allow for better establishment prior to the next summer.

Good companion plants include irises, black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, flowering groundcovers and once enough shade is established, ferns, hostas, hellebores and astilbes.


This tree may take some searching to find. I've had good luck with retail nurseries that carry a broad selection of trees:

Buck Jones Nursery
John Deere Landscapes
GNPS Nursery List
Nature Hills Nursery (mail order)

If you have comments or questions about this article, please email me.

Images & Drawings Copyrighted © 2009 by Theresa Schrum - All rights reserved