What it looks like

Basswood has large, heart-shaped leaves with toothed edges and a short point. The twigs have a noticeable zigzag appearance. The fragrant yellow flowers and round grayish-brown fruit hang from the centre of a leaf-like bract. When released, the bract acts like a helicopter wing and carries the seeds away in a breeze. The bark is gray-brown with long narrow ridges.

Where it is found

Basswood is a common southern Ontario tree, ranging into central Ontario as far north as Lake Nipissing and Sault Ste. Marie, but also in the northwestern corner near the Ontario-Minnesota border.

This tree can be found often growing in large-trunked, multi-stemmed trunks along fencerows, or as single-stemmed trees within the deciduous forest. It is valued for its light, easily worked wood.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 35 m tall
  • Moisture: Prefers moist soils
  • Shade: Can grow in full shade or full sun
  • Soil: Prefers rich, well-drained soils

It is common to rake up all the leaves in the yard in fall, but many species, including basswood have very nutrient-rich leaves. Mulching leaves with a lawnmower can help your lawn, your trees and save money on fertilizer.

Did you know?

Bees love basswood flowers because they bloom in midsummer, when few other trees are in bloom.

Image credits

  • Tree: Rob Routledge
  • Leaf: Paul Wray
  • Bark: Vern Wilkins
  • Fruit: Steven J. Baskauf