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Hackberry Tree

Celtis occidentalis

(Family Ulmaceae)

Diagnosis: Grows 40 to 50 feet high with straight, short, trunk, 30 to 60 centimeters in diameter. There are a few large branches with many small branches. These small branches are thin, mostly horizontal, and follow a zigzag pattern. The branches form a rounded, open crown. The leaves are simple and alternating. They are five to 10 centimeters in length and about one-half as wide. They are ovate in shape and oblique at base going into a point. They are coarsely serrated above the base to the tip. They are green on above surface and lighter green underneath changing to yellow in fall. The petioles are short, thin, and hairy. Flowers are greenish with thin pedicels. The staminate are in groups at the base of the shoot. The pistillate is solitary in the axils of upper leaves. Both male and female flowers are present on the same tree. Fruits are present in September through October. They are thinly-stalked, globular drupes, which are eight to 11 millimeters. They are dark-purple, edible, and remain through the winter.

Conservation status: Not threatened.

Native status: Native to the United States.

Flowering Period: May, with or soon after the leaves are present.

Habitat: Prefers moist, well- drained soil, but will grow in most areas with ample water supply.




Laun, H. Charles. The Natural History Guide. Alton Illinois: Alsace, 1967.

Mohler, J.C. Trees in Kansas. Topeka Kansas: Kansas Board of Agriculture, 1928.

Zulver, Selma. Trees Natural Guides. New York New York,1963.


A Poem:


An old boy once said!

A guy I met,

Said, you can bet

That fresh tree will burn

You will learn

I have my doubts

And you know what about

Hackberry burning green

I know you have seen,

The logs bubble and hiss

I took the risk!

All wood must be seasoned,

Now I have reasoned.

                                --By Scott Ross



All pictures and illustrations by Scott Ross.  


Submitted by Scott Ross, July 2012




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