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Celtis occidentalis L.
Common hackberry, Nettle tree
USDA Symbol: ceoc
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
The common hackberry is a 60-100 ft. deciduous tree, varying greatly in response to habitat. The broad crown is often erratic in shape. Tree with rounded crown of spreading or slightly drooping branches, often deformed as bushy growths called witches’-brooms. Older bark is covered with conspicuous, corky projections. The plant foliage is dull-green and rough. Its fall color is not impressive. Orange-brown to dark-purple berries are arranged in clusters.
Used for furniture, athletic goods, boxes and crates, and plywood. The common name apparently was derived from hagberry, meaning marsh berry, a name used in Scotland for a cherry. Many birds, including quail, pheasants, woodpeckers, and cedar waxwings, consume the sweetish fruits. Branches of this and other hackberries may become deformed bushy growths called witches-brooms produced by mites and fungi. The leaves often bear rounded galls caused by tiny jumping plant lice.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Inflorescence: Axillary Fruit Type: Drupe Size Notes:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Purple, Red Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr
AL , AR , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY Canada: MB
, QC Native Distribution:
NH to WY, s. to GA, AR & n.w. TX Native Habitat:
Stream banks; flood plains; rocky hillsides of open woods USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils. pH adaptable.
Hackberries are among the best food and shelter plants for wildlife. The fruit
is relished by birds. Use Food:
Americans made cakes by pulverizing the entire fruit,
including the seed, making a nutritious food that could be stored.
Dakota people used the dried fruit
as a spice.
Native Americans used hackberry extracts medicinally, for sore throats, colds, regulation of menstrual periods. (Athenic) Attracts:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, American Snout
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
PropagationDescription: Stratified seed sown in spring or untreated seed sown in fall. Can be rooted from juvenile wood and from root sprouts or suckers.
Seed Collection: Pick mature fruits in late summer until winter. Air-dry with pulp on or soak overnight and rub pulp off on screen. Store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Stratify 60-90 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
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Record Modified: 2012-10-15
Research By: TWC Staff