Leaf Type: Deciduous
Mature Height: ~20-30 m (~65-100 ft)
Fall Color: Pale yellow to yellow-brown
Native Range: American basswoods are native to the Midwest and Northeast of the U.S. The range dips into Tennessee in places.
American basswoods are members of the mallow family which includes other plants such as okra, hibiscus, cotton, and chocolate.The leaves of the American basswood are large and heart-shaped with toothed edges. Typically, the base of the leaf is uneven, and the underleaf is whitish and hairy. The flowers of this tree are creamy white and are found in clusters. They are under a tongue-like leafy bract. The flowers become a brown nut in the fall which is a food source for wildlife.
● American basswood is commonly used for solid body electric guitars.
● The name basswood came from a use made by native Americans of using its fibrous, tough inner bark or “bast” for making cordage and ropes.
● The fragrant flowers of the American Basswood are favored by bees, and this tree is often known as the “bee tree,” producing a strongly flavored honey by these hard-working pollinators.
● The inner bark was historically used Native Americans for making baskets, rope, and fishing nets.
This site has a rich human history, including the story of the Bass Street Community, one of the first Free Black neighborhoods in Nashville. Click here to learn more about St. Cloud Hill and its many inhabitants over the years. Read More >