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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - February 21, 2014

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Trees
Title: Species of hackberry best for wildlife from Georgetown, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Which species of Hackberry tree is the best for wildlife in Georgetown, TX (just north of Austin)? Your Plant Database says Celtis occidentals is "among the BEST food and shelter plants for wildlife, but in your Q&A Database, Ive only seen the Celtis laevigata discussed for Central Texas. Is one species actually better than the other for wildlife? If both species would do well in our area, is there any problem with planting a few of each on the same 5 acres? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Okay, we can see how you got confused. Both Celtis occidentalis (Common hackberry) and Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry) are listed in our Native Plant Database with the common name "hackberry." You can follow the plant link to our webpage on each to learn their growing conditions, etc. On the webpage for Celtis occidentalis (Common hackberry), we found this line under Benefits:

"Use Wildlife: Hackberries are among the best food and shelter plants for wildlife. The fruit is relished by birds."

On the page for Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry), also under Benefits, was this line:

"Use Wildlife: At least 10 species of birds including robins, mockingbirds, and other songbirds eat the sweetish fruits."

This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that Celtis occidentalis (Common hackberry) is not native to Williamson County, but is native to Travis County and almost undoubtedly lives in Williamson County, too, but just has not been reported there. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry) does grow natively in Williamson County.

Take your pick.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common hackberry
Celtis occidentalis

Common hackberry
Celtis occidentalis

Common hackberry
Celtis occidentalis

Sugar hackberry
Celtis laevigata

Sugar hackberry
Celtis laevigata

Sugar hackberry
Celtis laevigata

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