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Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry)
Fabre, Carl

Celtis laevigata

Celtis laevigata Willd.

Sugar Hackberry, Texas Sugarberry, Sugarberry, Southern Hackberry, Lowland Hackberry, Hackberry, Palo Blanco

Ulmaceae (Elm Family)


USDA Symbol: cela

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Tree with broad, rounded, open crown of spreading or slightly drooping branches. Sugar hackberry can grow 60-80 ft. in height and equally as wide with a broad crown and graceful, pendulous branches. Its smooth, pale bark is marked with lighter, corky patches. Deciduous leaves up to 4 inches long, blades ovate to narrower with a long, tapering tip, usually with smooth margins and an unequal base which is tapered on one side of the midrib and rounded on the other. Fruit spherical, 1/4 inch in diameter and usually dull red.

Frequently heavily parasitized by mistletoe.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate , Ovate
Leaf Apex: Acuminate
Inflorescence: Axillary
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 80 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Drupe orange-red to black with a solitary pale brown seed inside.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , DC , FL , GA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NM , NV , OK , OR , SC , TN , TX , UT , VA , WA , WV , WY
Native Distribution: S. MD through Coastal Plain and Piedmont to FL, w. to c. IL, n. MO, s.e. KS & TX, south to southern Mexico
Native Habitat: Thickets, open woodlands, stream, river banks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Various moist soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay, Clay Loam, Caliche type


Use Ornamental: It is sometimes used for street planting in the lower South (of the USA). It often comes up in vacant lots and in fencerows, common along streams and in bottomlands.
Use Wildlife: At least 10 species of birds including robins, mockingbirds, and other songbirds eat the sweetish fruits.
Use Other: Principal uses of the wood are for furniture, athletic goods, and plywood. It is used to a limited extent for flooring, crating, fuel, cooperage, and posts. The wood is yellowish, close-grained, soft, weak, weighing 49 pounds per cubit feet.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Hackberry Emperor
(Asterocampa celtis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: 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

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Edible plants native to Austin, TX
August 05, 2009
Hello, I am a chef from Buenos Aires Argentina visiting Austin, Texas and would like to learn about native, edible plants in the region. Please let me know if there are any native, edible plants...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Celtis laevigata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Celtis laevigata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Celtis laevigata


Record Modified: 2016-02-17
Research By: NPC

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