Western Hackberry

Botanical Name: Celtis occidentalis

Alternate Name: Common Hackberry

The Western Hackberry is a common tree and has many names, such as Common Hackberry, Nettle Tree, and Sugarberry.  It is a medium to large deciduous tree that grows to a height of 40-60 feet and a spread of 40-60 feet. 

Celtis occidentalis forms a rounded crown and can grow as wide as it does tall. The branches have an upright growth habit that can arch gracefully sideways. It can be found growing in mixed deciduous forests and near streams in the midwest and eastern United States. 

The leaves of the Western Hackberry are ovate and hang down from the branches. They are glossy and light or mid-green with serrated edges and an uneven base – similar to elm leaves. 

The flowers are modest and don’t put on a noticeable display. The male flowers appear in clusters and the female flowers are solitary. The fleshy purple fruits that follow the female flowers are attractive to birds. They are also sweet and edible to people.

The gray bark of the Western Hackberry has an interesting texture and forms thick, irregular ridges and wart-like growths over a smooth background.

Celtis occidentalis is a useful and adaptable landscape tree. It is tolerant of drought conditions and urban pollution, making it ideal for use as a street tree. Its dense foliage, wide crown, and stature also make it well suited for use as a shade tree. It can also be planted to prevent erosion near streams and rivers and therefore works well in cultivation in rain gardens.

Category:

Height: 40-60 ft.

Width: 40-60 ft.

Shape: Round

Flower Color: Green

Flowering Time: April-May

Fall Color: Yellow

Features: Edible fruit for wildlife, yellow fall color

Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

Watering: Moderate/Heavy & Regular

Soil: Prefers rich, moist and well-drained soil. Somewhat drought tolerant.

Growth Rate: Fast

USDA Zones: 2-9

Uses: Shade tree, street tree, lawn tree, urban landscapes, rain gardens

Similar trees: Ulmus species