Origin: Eastern North America (native in Ontario)
Common hackberry is a small- to medium-sized tree, with a broad rounded crown.Read more about Tree, Bark, Twigs
Leaves have a long-tapering tip and a rounded asymmetrical base.Read more about Leaves
Separate male and female flowers are very small and inconspicuous. .Read more about Flowers
Fruits are small, round, reddish-purple, and hang singly on slender stalks.Read more about Fruit
Common hackberry is a small- to medium-sized tree, to about 15 m (50') tall and 50 cm (20") in diameter. The crown is broad and rounded.
As the trees age, the corky ridges become more pronounced. On much older trees, the bark becomes scaly.
Leaves are 6 - 9 cm (2 1/4" - 3.5") long with a tapering tip, a rounded asymmetrical base, and toothed edges.
Common hackberry is one of two species in the genus Celtis that is native to Canada. The other species, dwarf hackberry (Celtis tenuifolia), was previously thought to be a variety of common hackberry. It can be distinguished by its smaller size, smaller, orange-brown fruit and smaller, broader leaves. Dwarf hackberry is very rare in Ontario and is listed as a threatened species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
Derivation of names
The genus name, Celtis, is the classical Latin name for the African lotus (Ziziphus lotus in the family Rhamnaceae); a reference to hackberry's sweet fruit. The species name, occidentalis, means western or of the Western hemisphere. The name "hackberry" may derive from "hagberry," meaning "marsh berry," which is a word used in Scotland for bird cherry (Prunus avium), which has fruit that is similar in appearance.
Common hackberry is fairly long-lived, sometimes reaching 200 years.
Human use and wildlife value
The sweet fruits of common hackberry are eaten by small mammals or game birds. The wood of common hackberry is heavy but soft, and has little commercial value beyond the manufacture of boxes, furniture, and plywood.
Common hackberry's place in Toronto's urban forest
Common hackberry, a member of the Elm family, has become a popular alternative to elm trees for the last few decades. because it is immune to Dutch elm disease.
Landscape value and potential for home planting
Common hackberry is well suited to urban environments because it is hardy and adaptable to a range of conditions. It is tolerant of some shade, but with too much, may develop poorly.
Pests and diseases: Common hackberry may become infected by a gall mite (Eriophyes spp) and a powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca phytophila), which can cause bushy growths of small, upright branches - a symptom called witches' broom. Several species of gall-producing insects may infest common hackberry trees and lay eggs on their leaves, but otherwise do not cause serious damage.
Links to maps at Canadian Tree Tours: