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Basswood

  • Tilia americana L.
  • Tiliaceae
  • Linden family



Common Names

herbsAmerican basswood
herbsAmerican linden
herbsBast tree
herbsCommon lime
herbsLime tree
herbsLinden
herbsLinden flower
herbsSpoonwood
herbsWycopy


Parts Usually Used

Flowers and leaves, inner bark


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The basswood tree reaches a height of up to 120 feet. The brownish-gray bark is perpendicularly, but not deeply, fissured. The cordate, serrate leaves are from 4-7 inches long have pointed tips and heart-shaped bases; clusters of yellow-white fragrant flowers (1/2 inch wide) with 5 sepals and petals and numerous stamens cohering in groups, grow on long stalks from narrow bracts, appear in June and August; they are followed by small round nutlets. The fruits or seeds are about the size and shape of a pea and are commonly called "monkey-nuts". Tree characterized by prominent winter buds and the lack of terminal bud; and for the pyramidal shape of the tree.

Other lindens, like the commonly planted European linden, can be used in the same way.


Where Found

Found in the eastern United States and in Canada; moist soil, in woods and forests, in uplands and valleys from Quebec to North Dakota and south to North Carolina and Oklahoma. Also planted in cities of this area.


Medicinal Properties

Diaphoretic, stomachic Bark: emollient


Legends, Myths and Stories

In Europe, many legends and superstitions are centered around these trees. Linden wood was used for carving sacred works of art, and the linden tree, which was the village tree, played an important role in the life of early Europeans. Thus it was only natural that special curative power was ascribed to these medicinal trees.

Among the Germanic peoples the linden was a "sacred" tree for people in love, the tree that brought fertility and prosperity. In the Middle Ages, people carved images of the Virgin Mary and figures of the saints from linden wood, calling the wood lignum sacrum, sacred wood.


Uses

Used as a home remedy for colds, flu, coughs, fever, headaches, epilepsy, indigestion, and sore throats. The inner bark contains mucilaginous materials and makes a soothing application for skin irritations, boils, wounds, sores, and burns. A popular continental herb tea. Used in cosmetic preparations.


Formulas or Dosages

Bark, leaves and flowers, dried in the shade.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. flowers or leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1-2 cups a day.


Warning

Frequent consumption of flower tea may cause heart damage.

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