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The Basswoods or Lindens

tree, basswood, native, blade and species

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THE BASSWOODS OR LINDENS In the log school house of an earlier day the benches were simple, rude affairs hewn out of native lumber. Many an old man remembers how promptly he used to dispatch his chores and betake himself to schuid on the morning of the first day.

Zeal for learning lie had, no doubt, but greater at that critical moment was his zeal to preempt a seat for the term on a basswood bench. It was su much softer than those made of oak ! I venture lie has nut forgotten the cold all day trips his father used to make to the timber, where he cut the wood for next year's fuel ! When the hey was big enough to help, lie went along. on Saturdays, armed with the old ax; and the chances are that his first lesson in the new craft was taken on the smooth round bole of a. younLr bass wood. From his father the lad learned to know trees by their shapes and their bark, Tait he re membered them best by their behav ior under the ax. The basswoods were ever the most comely to him, for they never played him any tricks, as did the stubborn, knotty trunks of oaks and hickories. When he went back in June, the wooded hillside stood transformed. The basswoods were all green and alive above their well remembered trunks. Against their dark foliage hung clusters of creamy blossoms, each on a dainty pale green blade. And out of them came a great wave of fragrance, honey-sweet, and the low music of contented bees.

In the autumn, \\hen the hazel hushes opened their husks, and butter nuts were falling, it was line to finish digging potatoes in time to go nut ting on a Saturday afternoon. The leaves of the basswoods \ye re falling• then, and on the hare twigs, ruby budded in promise of next year's growth, hung downy gray seed balls on russet blades. To curve and tilt and cling as the wind tossed them about. one by On e to loosen their hold and to Nvhirl and drift away—this the boy' read as the closing chapter in the year book of the basswood trees.

The genus ']'ilia, which includes all our basswoods, may be counted an al jell in our cold climate, for it is the only member of the great linden family that has left the tropics. It

is evidently well content, for it ranges widely in the northern hemi sphere. There are about a dozen species, all told, three of which are native to the eastern half of the United States. All basswoods have soft, even-textured wood, and tough, fil)rons inner hark. The leaves are simple, heart-shaped, more or less one-sided, and the perfect flowers are borne in clusters on a leaf-like blade.

The Basswood, or Linden, Ti/i(t ,lmeric(ina, is the largest and most wide-spread of our native species. It is found from Georgia to New Brunswick, and west to the foothills of the Rocky i\lountains. It is dis tinctly a lovely tree; all the lines of its spreading limbs and broad crown are carved and graceful, and its foliage is smooth and tropically luxuriant.

The creamy Bowers, followed by oval fruit, are attached to a slender bract that tapers at the base.

The Linden or Bee Tree, 7711(1 lictcrophylht, is next in size and breadth of distribution. It is distinguishable by its large leaves which are green and shiny above, and lined with close white down. The fruits are globular, not oval, and are borne on a blade like that of the basswood. The tree is common in forests from Pennsylvania south and west. The dancing foliage, with its striking contrast of light and shade. is a picture always to remember, once it is seen.

The Linden, ur Basswood, Tili(t ptheserns, last and least of onr native species, is found scattered from Lung Island to Texas. Its dainty leaves are downy or woolly underneath, ;0.; are also its twigs and fruit. The blade that bears the fruit pellets is short and rounded it each end. sv r f ur The tree prefers moist soil. flid thrives - tree- - - moist - - - best ilea] the coast.

The lindens of Enropo. much planted in .\rater ica, are, as a rule, carelessly classed together under the name Tilio E/trop«qt. There are, however, several distinct species of them, and many varieties.

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