An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

American Basswood Buds

12-12-18 basswood bud IMG_6817

Bark, silhouettes and buds are the three keys to identifying trees in winter. Buds of different tree species are so distinctive they are an excellent identification tool. American Basswood, also known as American Linden,  (Tilia americana) has plump, oval, asymmetrical reddish or green buds, which bear only one or two bud scales.

The bud that forms at the end of a branch is referred to as the terminal bud and those along the length of the branch are lateral buds.  In the case of Basswood, the bud at the tip of the branch is a “false” terminal bud, because it is actually a lateral bud that has assumed the function of the terminal bud.  When the growing tip of the branch withers or falls away, the closest lateral bud to the twig tip substitutes as a terminal bud.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

11 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    Is that lovely leaf scar from last year’s faux terminal bud?

    December 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

    • Hi Kathie,
      Yes, I believe the leaf scar is from a leaf that was (in embryonic form) inside last year’s faux terminal bud.

      December 12, 2018 at 3:40 pm

  2. Berta

    Is there a good guide for matching buds to tree type? Thanks !

    December 12, 2018 at 11:19 am

    • The best resource I have found is Jerry Jenkins’ WOODY PLANTS OF THE NORTHERN FOREST – a photographic guide. Very detailed photographs, not only of buds, but leaves as well. You really couldn’t do better!

      December 13, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    • Berta

      Thanks !

      December 13, 2018 at 3:37 pm

  3. Lenore Budd


    I really enjoy your posts pointing us to what we can and should see outdoors if we only take the time to be attentive.

    Would you be able to write about something we’re NOT seeing? I’m thinking insects. We have not changed our housekeeping or our building envelope but so far this fall/winter we have had virtually no dying houseflies on our window sills or in our light fixtures. Also no congregations of lady beetles in our ceiling corners – just an occasional one or two roaming our kitchen counters. Are your other readers observing this as well? Is this related to the global insect die-off that has been reported in the “NY Times” and other places?



    Lenore F. Budd 604 Drinkwater Road Hinesburg, VT 05461 802-482-4047

    December 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    • Hi Lenore,
      I would guess, and it’s just a guess, that your lack of flies and lady beetles is more weather-related than the die-off. The depletion of numbers and species of insects is fairly apparent in the summer, at least in fields near me, but I have found winter numbers fluctuate with the temperatures, weather conditions, etc…but you may be on to something. It would be interesting to get feedback from other readers.

      December 13, 2018 at 12:14 pm

  4. Alice Pratt

    ….so much to learn….

    December 12, 2018 at 2:56 pm

  5. Peter Hope

    I learned from UVM students on a dendrology class trip to the Smokeys that the basswood buds are easy to identify because they look like a mouse wearing a helmit from the two bud scale set up.

    December 13, 2018 at 5:55 am

  6. David Fedor-Cunningham

    And linden buds have a nutty flavor, try it! Young leaves are also edible.

    December 13, 2018 at 8:58 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s