Keystone Value: The genus Tilia (Linden) supports over 150 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars, providing food for a variety of birds and mammals.
American Linden (Tilia americana) is a large deciduous tree often used as an ornamental or shade tree. It grows naturally in deep, well-drained soils in both dry upland areas as well as coves, lower slopes, and river bottoms. The tiny, fragrant, yellow-white flowers bloom in drooping clusters from a long, light-green, leaf-like bract. An alternative common name for American Linden is Bee Tree, as it is a prolific nectar producer, and when in full bloom it attracts enough bees that you can hear the buzzing from several feet away. Its wildlife value cannot be overstated. The fruit feeds birds and small mammals, and the buds provide food for birds in the winter when other food sources are scarce. As the wood decays in older trees, cavities provide shelter to cavity-nesting animals such as wood ducks and pileated woodpeckers. American Linden is also the larval host to Red-Spotted Purple (shown above), among other Lepidoptera.