Basswood Tree (American Linden) – great tree for survival

One of my favorite trees is the Basswood, or American Linden.  It is a large stately tree that is loved by bees at it puts out huge quantities of blooms that bees love & does so later in the year when the bees are hunting nectar & pollen.  For that reason it is also called the bee tree.  Basswood honey is considered some of the best in the world.  My son has a few large basswoods at his house & they can be just loaded with bees.  I have planted two on my property.

What many folks don’t realize though is that the leaves and young buds are edible… and quite tasty.  They can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked down.  The native Americans also used the bark.  The Indians soaked the bark for two to four weeks to loosen long fibers. They used the fibers for many of their needs: Bags, baskets, belts, fishnets, house mats, snowshoe netting, ropes, sewing thread and even suturing wounds. 

IMO, this is a tree preppers should need to recognize, as there is a lot of leaves on a mature tree.  It is also a great tree for our bees, which we need to protect & nuture.


basswood leaves


  • Comments (7)

    • 10

      I remember these trees! I would just always pull off those little seed things and throw them at my sisters. haha, I was a little brat growing up.

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge about this tree! This definitelywouldn’t be a tree that I would have thought that I would want on my dream prepping homestead. I thought my dream trees would only consist of fruit trees. But you proved me wrong! Trees like this can have multiple purposes and can be beneficial! If the leaves really are as tasty as you say they are, I can see this tree making many many salads!

      Do you or your son make honey? If these trees are so bee friendly and make a good tasting honey, I think that would be great to get into. Maybe you can rent out your trees and land to some bees. Have a bee keeper bring their bees on your property for exchange of a small amount of honey at the end of the season.

      • 7

        He has had bees in his attic for years, I’m sure attracted to his big basswoods.  This past year a beekeeper came & installed a hive & relocated those bees to it.  I’m hoping to try some of that honey soon.  I initally was going to get into keeping bees but at the last minute, chickened out.  I didn’t think I’d have the time.  But I do have 2 horizontal hives in storage if we ever did have a crisis.

        The leaves, especially the young ones are very tasty.  I like to teach people about them & they are shocked when they taste the leaves.  My undesratnding is the native Americans didn’t eat them much but the early settlers did.

    • 7

      I know that you can make pine needle tea from most evergreen trees, but heard that some lookalike trees like a Yew Tree (short stubby flat needles), Ponderosa Pine, and Norfolk Island Pine are poisonous to humans.

      Do you know if there are any similar species of trees that look like a Basswood tree that can be toxic? Or if I see a tree with that shape of leaves and unique seeds, I should be good to try eating a leaf?

      • 8

        I don’t know of any & the basswood is fairly easy to recognize, with its large, heart shaped leaves.  The taste test should confirm your hunch.  Taste the leaf of any other broadleaf tree & you will spit it out quickly.  Taste the leaf of a basswood & it will be sweet & mild.

        Basswood tea or Linden tea is rather common & supposed to have all sorts of healthy properties.  Lots of articles online but here is one:

        Harvesting Linden Flowers for Calming Linden Tea

      • 6

        Thank you for the great response! That tea article shows many intriguing health benefits. I’m excited to look for a Linden tree on my next walk.

    • 9

      I had one of these in my front yard for years and never knew its leaves were edible! Can confirm they get loaded up with bees though. For whatever reason, and to my mild annoyance, random people always chose to park directly in front of my house and nowhere else on the street, under the basswood. If they left the car too long, it would get covered in sap and then BEES, and I admit I snickered a little every time.

      • 7

        Too funny!  In the past, I never associated bees & trees.  I knew bees loved flowers & clovers but never considered trees.  One mature basswood can feed a lot of bees and produce a lot of honey.  Even if you didn’t need to eat the leaves it is worthy of planting as it is a beautiful tree & helps our bees.  But edible leaves should interest preppers.