Basswood is one of our most beautiful ornamental trees, with a tall, straight trunk and rounded crown. Due to the deep, extensive root system, it is windfirm. In July, basswood flowers scent the air and attract bees. An oar-shaped bract (small leaf-like structure) accompanies the flowers and fruit. A soothing tea can be made from the dried flowers.
Associated with other hardwoods in the Ottawa and Saint Lawrence River valleys, basswood grows well in deep, fertile soil. Also known as whitewood and American linden, it does not form pure stands. Very sensitive to differences in microclimate, it requires a suitable site. Because its leaves contain a high percentage of calcium and magnesium, however, this tree helps enrich the soil.
The wood varies from creamy white to light brown and has a fine, regular texture. The annual rings are invisible. Light, soft and low in strength, this wood is easily worked with hand tools. It also accepts stain well, is odourless and almost tasteless.
It is an excellent wood for carving, turnery and woodworking. It is also used to manufacture models and templates, musical instruments, drawing boards, frames, toys and decorations.
Leaves, alternate, simple, toothed, 4.8 to 6 inches long (12 to 15 cm long).
Fruits, capsules covered with brownish hair and a large bract, on a long stalk.