It seems like, when people list the trees of Iowa, that many don’t think about, or possibly know about, basswood (Tilia americana).

However, basswood is a common tree that occurs statewide and is often interspersed with maples and oaks.

Photo of basswood tree

Size

Basswoods grow 75-100 feet or more, and they grow quickly. If planted at the same time as other hardwoods, basswoods will often outgrow the other trees and take over the canopy.

Habitat

Basswoods like mesic soil and part shade.

Leaves

The base of the leaf is heart-shaped and often unequal. The surface is smooth except for small tufts of hairs in the vein axils beneath. Leaves are simple, alternate and nearly round with toothed edges.

Photo of an american basswood leaf

Seeds

Basswood trees produce a nut-like seed, similar to a walnut, that is a food source for birds and small mammals.