Medium-sized to large tree 18 - 25 m tall, trunk diameter 40 cm - 1 m Leaves: alternate, stalked, green above, densely hairy beneath, 12 - 15 or more cm long, about half as wide, obliquely heart-shaped with an asymmetrical base and pointed tip, coarsely toothed, thin, and firm. Flowers: long-stalked, in drooping clusters attached to a yellowish, paddle-shaped bract, greenish yellow to white, small, hairy, fragrant. Sepals five. Petals five. Fruit: a hard, woody nut in long-stalked clusters, reddish brown, 6 mm in diameter, spherical, finely hairy, with a short-pointed tip. The stalks are attached to a yellowish, paddle-shaped bract. Bark: brown, thick, and deeply furrowed into long, narrow, flat-topped, scaly ridges. The ridges are nearly parallel and are sometimes interlacing. Twigs: slender, stout, pale reddish brown, and somewhat zigzagged. Leaf scars half-elliptical, with three or more bundle scars. Buds: shiny green or reddish brown, 6 mm long, egg-shaped, pointed, lopsided. Bud scales usually two. Form: broadly rounded with a straight trunk. Sprouts often growing at the base.
Similar species: Tilia americana differs from variety heterophylla by the virtual absence of hairs on the leaf undersides.
Flowering: mid-June to mid-July
Habitat and ecology: Dry to moist woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: The wood of Tilia americana var. heterophylla is not very durable, but is used for boxes, crates, furniture parts, interior trim, veneer, plywood, pulp, fuel, and hand carving. Although planted as an ornamental, European species are more commonly used. Native Americans made rope from the bark of its young stems.
Etymology: Tilia is the Latin name for the linden or basswood tree. Americana means "from America" (North or South). Heterophylla means "diversely leaved."
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
An infrequent tree on the bluffs and slopes of ravines and streams in a few of the southern counties.