When you step outside the FSM office right now, you’ll likely notice the sweet scent of the bee tree wafting on the breeze. There are quite a few bee trees, more commonly known as linden or basswood, in our downtown Bangor neighborhood. They’ve grown up enough to shade the sidewalks and grace us with their pleasant scent for a week or so each summer. Clusters of whitish-yellow blossoms, five petals each with a pale green bract, cover the trees and will eventually produce little pea-sized nutlets. The blossoms are attractive to bees, which produce a particularly flavorful honey from its nectar.
In the wild Tilia americana can be found on rich sloping sites with good soil and moisture, often forming stands with sugar maples. Popular with woodcarvers, basswood is lightweight, highly workable, and has a fine grain. Small mammals enjoy the seeds and the decaying trunks make excellent nest cavities for pileated woodpeckers, wood ducks, and other woodland species.