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American Basswood

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This deciduous tree generally grows faster than most other North American hardwoods. Native to eastern North America, American basswood’s life expectancy is approximately 200 years. It flowers and produces seeds between 15 and 100 years. In early to midsummer the flower buds open up and develop small, yellowish-white drooping clusters. The fruit is a small, downy, hard, and dry cream-colored nut. The seeds of these trees have a low viability rate and quickly develop a hard coating around the seed that delays the growth of the tree. The foliage and flowers are edible. The flowers of the tree are the source of Linden tea, and have medicinal properties that may reduce inflammation. When the flowers are added to baths, they may quell hysteria. The common name of basswood is derived from bastwood, in reference to the tough inner bark (bast) which has been used to make rope and mats. The wood is very light, making it ideal for shipping crates and boxes, cheap furniture, and wood carvings. It has no serious insect or disease problems; spider mites can do significant damage, particularly in hot, dry periods, but this does not kill the tree.

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