American linden, also known as basswood, has enormous leaves up to 8 inches long, while the distinctive bracts from which the flowers and fruit hang are not only larger but look less like leaves than those of the little-leaf linden (T. cordata). There is a reason for the special design; when the spherical fruits, generally in threes, are ready to fall, the leaf-like bract falls with them, acting as a parachute, and making an opportunity for the seed to travel with the breeze. Linden honey is in high repute; a side effect is that many birds attracted by nectar also eat insects. The close-grained, knot-free but soft wood has many uses, including the making of pianos. The usable fibrous bast gives rise to the name basswood.
T. × moltkei, of which T. americana is one parent, can be seen on Salvatierra Street at 583, 585, 611, 613, and 625. There are no reported examples of the species T. americana on campus, but it may be in the residential area.
Illustrations: Silhouettes from Trees of Stanford & its Environs
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.