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HackberryCeltis occidentalis

  • Hackberry - Celtis occidentalis
Tolerant of a wide range of conditions, the Hackberry is a good landscape choice. Grows to a broad crown with arching branches, not unlike the American Elm. Well-suited to urban areas, it withstands wind and city conditions. Grows 40'-70' with a 50' spread. (Zones 3-9)

Hardiness Zones

The hackberry can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–9. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The hackberry grows to a height of 40–60' and a spread of 40–60' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium to Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium to fast rate, with height increases of anywhere from 13" to more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The hackberry grows well in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils. It has some tolerance for both flooding and drought.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Features leaves shaped like spearheads, approximately 2–4" and 1½–2" wide, arranged alternately along the twigs. Small teeth edge at least the upper half of the leaf.
  • Produces small, dark red drupes about 1/3" in diameter that turn dark purple as they mature in mid-autumn. These berry-like fruit persist into the winter.
  • Develops a broad crown with arching branches.
  • Forms characteristic corky ridges and warts on trunk and branches.
  • Tolerates strong winds, pollution, heat, drought and salt.
  • Grows in a rounded, vase-like shape.
  • Has a growth pattern that resembles the elm--without the susceptibility to disease.

Wildlife Value

The fruit of the hackberry is popular with winter birds, especially the cedar waxwing, mockingbird and robin. The tree also attracts many butterfly species including American snout, hackberry, mourning cloak, and tawny emperor.

History/Lore

In earlier years, its tough, flexible wood was used for barrel hoops, and many a pioneer cabin was equipped with durable hackberry wood flooring. The tree was first cultivated in 1636.

Other common names given to the hackberry include common hackberry, sugarberry, nettletree, beaverwood, northern hackberry and American hackberry.