Description & Overview

American Sentry Linden has a narrow, pyramidal habit with distinctive smooth, gray bark when young. Large, green, heart-shaped leaves appear bicolored becoming even more interesting when the wind blows. Small, creamy yellow fragrant flowers fill the tree in late June, attracting bees and other wildlife. The foliage turns a pale yellow in the fall.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: No - Variety of North American Native

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 50-60 feet

Mature Spread: 20-25 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Upright, narrow, pyramidal

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Average to moist, alkaline

Flower: White, fragrant, clustered

Bloom Period: Late June – July, Early summer to Mid-summer

Foliage: Dark green, toothed, heart - shaped, lighter green underneath, 6 - 8" long

Fall Color: Yellow

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Small round nutlet

Suggested Uses

American Sentry Linden is adaptable to many conditions but prefers average to moist soil. Suggested uses include city parks where pollution may be of concern or residential parks where shade trees are needed. Note that the fragrant flowers will draw bees, which may not be wanted around picnic tables or playgrounds.

American Sentry is also a great option for the typical residential homeowner who would like to support our pollinators. The large leaves are easy to rake up, the flowers are fragrant and noticeable in the early summer’s day, and the fruits aren’t particularly messy or necessary to clean up as they blend right in with the landscape.

Low maintenance with strong braches makes it an excellent choice as a street tree provided it’s planted away from power lines.

Wildlife Value

Many insects rely on Lindens as a food source for their larvae either from nectar, wood, or pollen. Lindens are a host plant to the Elm Sphinx (Ceratomia amyntor), Coleophora tiliaefoliella, Small-eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops), Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria), Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilo glaucus), Blinded Sphinx (Paonias excaecata), Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis), Linden Looper Moth (Erannis tiliaria), Pale Beauty (Campaea perlata), Large Tolype Moth (Tolype velleda), American Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidoides), Skiff Moth (Prolimacodes badia), Spiny oak Lug Moth (Euclea diphinii), Linden Prominent (Ellida caniplaga), Friendly Probole (Probole amicaria), Crocus Geometer (Eutrapela clemataria), Horned Spawnworm Moth (Nematocampa resistaria), Maple-basswood Leafroller Moth (Cenopis pettitana), Bold-feathered Grass Moth (Herpetogramma pertextalis), and many more!

Lindens are typically cross-pollinated by bumble bees, honeybees, Halictid bees, Syrphid flies, Tachinid flies, blow flies, Muscid flies, and more.

The Linden borer (Saperda vestita) bores through the wood of dead and dying branches. Various treehoppers, leafhoppers, beetles, thrips, aphids, and gall mites will feed on the foliage.

Lindens provide nesting habitat for wood ducks, woodpeckers, and other cavity-nesting birds, all the while providing food for Bobwhite Quails, Fox Squirrels, Gray Squirrels, chipmunks, and various mice.

Maintenance Tips

Water deeply during the first year to help the roots establish and become strong and healthy.

The American Sentry Linden prefers moist soils. Apply a mulch ring to help retain moisture and keep the roots cool.

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

American Sentry Linden has good resistance against Japanese beetles.

Rabbits and deer will feed upon the foliage, twigs, twigs, and bark.

Leaf Lore

The straight species’ common name, ‘basswood,’ derives from the word ‘bast’. Bast is a fibrous material from the bark and inner bark of the plant, used as fiber in matting, cord, etc. This is a selection by Howard Kulke at McKay Nursery.

The Cherokee used the inner bark of Lindens to treat dysentery, boils, and heartburn, and jelly was made and used to treat coughs and tuberculosis. Cordage was made from the inner bark. Bark from a tree struck by lightning was chewed and then spit on a snakebite for treatment.

The Chippewa made dugout canoes from the wood, basts were made into thread for sewing and weaving bags and used the wood to make spiles for drawing out maple sap from trees into buckets.

Companion Plants

Other bee-friendly trees include:

  • Basswood (Tilia Americana)
  • Emerald Spire Crabapple (Malus ‘Jefgreen’ PP23,863)
  • Black Willow (Salix nigra)
  • Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
  • Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
  • Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
  • Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora)
  • Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioica)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • and Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)

Other great shade trees include:

  • Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)
  • Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
  • Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
  • Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
  • American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
  • Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera
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Written by Beth DeLain