linden, whitewood

Tilia americana (Ventenat) Linnaeus

Basswood is a moderately common forest tree in New York State. It has rapidity of growth and a wide range of uses for its lumber. It does best in the deep, moist soils of the woodlot sections but is generally distributed except in the high Adirondacks and Catskills. The wood is soft, even-grained, light, and fairly strong, and used for boxes, crates, cheap furniture, woodenware, and paper pulp; often used as a substitute for white pine.

Bark - on young stems smooth, dark gray in color; on older trunks firm but easily cut, becoming furrowed into rather narrow flat-topped ridges; on still older trunks furrows deeper, ridges more rounding and broader, surface scaly.

Twigs - rather slender, smooth, bright red or greenish in color or covered by a gray skin, zigzag, slightly mucilaginous when chewed; fibers of bark on twigs very tough, may be used as rope.

Winter buds - terminal bud absent; lateral buds large, smooth, sometimes lopsided or humped, bending away from the twigs, dark red or sometimes green in color.

Leaves - simple, alternate, heart-shaped, 5 to 10 inches long, sharp-pointed, coarsely serrate along margin; leaf base is asymmetrical.

Fruit - a nut, round, woody, about the size of a pea, borne singly or in clusters, with a common stalk, attached midway to a leafy bract, ripening in late fall but sometimes remaining on the tree into the winter. The bract acts as a sail to scatter the seed.

Distinguishing features - often found in clumps; usually large, heart-shaped leaf; hump-backed bud on zigzag twig; fruit a pea-like nut attached to a slender "parachute."

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