Feature species: hackberry

Credit: Steven Katovich, Bugwood.org

Scientific name: Celtis occidentalis

Native to: east-central U.S. (includes Wisconsin)

Mature Height*: 30’-60’

Spread*: 30’-50’

Form: broadly and irregularly oval, approximately the vase shape of American elm

Growth Rate*: medium to fast; up to 24”-36” per year

Foliage: 2”-5”; lopsided oval with serrated edge

Fall color: yellow-green to yellow

Flowers: inconspicuous; blooms late April to May

Fruit: ¼”-3/8” diameter; round; dark red-brown to purple; ripens September-October; favored by birds and other wildlife

Bark: gray with characteristic corky “warts” or ridges

Site Requirements: adaptable; withstands windy sites, pollution, a wide range of soil pH, and dry, compacted, sandy, or rocky soil

Hardiness zone: 3a

Insect & Disease Problems: none life threatening; subject to disfigurement by “witches broom” (brushy clusters of twigs sprouting from the trunk or branches); subject to nipple gall (wart-like projections of leaf undersides)

Suggested Applications: streets, parks, lawns, exposed areas

Limitations: transplant in spring

Comments: Hackberry can be slow to leaf out after transplanting, particularly bare root stock.

Cultivars: ‘Chicagoland,’ ‘Magnifica,’ ‘Prairie Pride’, and UltraTM reach 50’ high and 40’ wide; Prairie SentinelTM is columnar (45’ high and 12’ wide)

*Urban tree size and growth rate vary considerably and are strongly controlled by site conditions.

(This is an updated version of an article written by retired DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator Cindy Casey for the urban forestry newsletter in 1994.)

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