American Basswood (Tilia americana) is known for the alluring scent and abundant nectar of its flowers, as well as its lightweight, odorless wood which lends itself to the production of food crates and boxes, musical instrument parts, yard sticks and cabinets. Equally distinctive are the nutlets that are borne on a stem bearing a persistent bract, or modified leaf, that aids in the wind dispersal of the fruit.
Most of the nutlets are eaten in the fall by chipmunks, mice, squirrels, porcupines and rabbits, but some persist until winter winds detach them from the tree and they fall to the ground. Basswood trees are not as dependent on seed germination as many other species due to their ability to put out new shoots from their stump or roots if cut down or damaged (self-coppicing).
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.