Celtis Occidentalis Western Hackberry

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Celtis occidentalis, the Common hackberry, is a medium-size deciduous tree native to North America, also known as a sugarberry, nettletree, beaverwood, northern hackberry, and American hackberry. It is a moderately long-lived hardwood with a light-colored wood, yellowish gray to light brown with yellow streaks.

The Common Hackberry is easily distinguished from elms and some other hackberries by its cork-like bark with wart-like protuberances. The leaves are distinctly asymmetrical and coarse-textured. It produces small berries that turn orange-red to dark purple in the Autumn, often staying on the trees for several months. The Common Hackberry is easily confused with the sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) and is most easily distinguished by range and habitat. The Common Hackberry also has wider leaves that are coarser above than the sugarberry.

Usually the Common Hackberry forms a medium sized tree, thirty to fifty feet in height, with a slender trunk; however, it can rise to the height of one hundred and thirty feet, in the best conditions in the southern Mississippi valley area. In the middle states of its range it seldom attains a height of more than sixty feet, and has a handsome round-topped head and pendulous branches. It prefers rich moist soil, but will grow on gravelly or rocky hillsides. The roots are fibrous and it grows rapidly. In the western part of its range with less rainfall and poorer soils it normally averages about thirty feet in height, but at least one specimen was found at ninetyfive feet. The maximum age attained by hackberry is probably between 150 and 200 years in ideal conditions.

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