Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sugarberry, Sugar Hackberry
Celtis laevigata

Family: Ulmaceae (ulm-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Celtis (SEL-tis) (Info)
Species: laevigata (lee-vih-GAY-tuh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts

over 40 ft. (12 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 27 photos.
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4 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Fortier On Feb 2, 2014, Fortier from Cypress Gardens, FL wrote:

Should u trim back a sugar berry tree ours is 15 ft ?

Neutral h9kr4jg8ir5 On May 21, 2013, h9kr4jg8ir5 from Spring, TX wrote:

I can't figure out why I'm getting dozens or hundreds of Sugar Hackberry seedlings sprouting up in my suburban Houston yard every year - 10 times as many as all other tree types combined. They comprise less than 1% of the trees in the natural forests around me. My first one sprung up about 6 years ago and it's now over 20 feet tall. Another one sprung up 4 years ago and it's nearly 15 feet tall. I'm on my way to having a Hackberry forest in my property. I like them so far. They're shady and they look like trees to me. I haven't seen any of the downsides yet. I guess I'd rather have Hackberry trees than turf grass.

Negative Sandwichkatexan On Jun 18, 2012, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

In our part of the world these are known as trash trees. They pop up along fence lines forming dense thickets . They pop up in flowerbeds and are impossible to control without doing damage to desirable plants. Older specimens here look gangly and unkempt . The mature trees break and snap in strong winds, and they seem to like to look diseased and nasty everywhere they grow here . Maybe in another area they grow beautifully without these bad characteristics, but here in Central Texas they are truly ugly, messy ,Weedy, diseased looking trees They are everywhere here . I even see them coming up in the Extraco banks flowerbeds. Hopefully the bank will get rid of them because they are starting to get quite big. Every summer I spend about a week out of the month chopping down baby trees without trying to harm my plants in the flowerbeds . And every month after cutting they are the same height they were before I cut them down . Not really a invasive tree as much as it is a pest . I realize it is beneficial to wildlife but I wish it were much more attractive and less aggressive .

Negative Skeptic On Nov 7, 2010, Skeptic from Austin, TX wrote:

It grows like weeds and it looks dirty in the summer/fall when it gets sticky. I have a million of them that I would love to give away. Birds love their seeds.

Neutral Farmerdill On Nov 16, 2006, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

It grows wild here also. It would not be a bad tree for yards except except that it is a magnet for the Asian Wooly Hackberry aphid. It is a very competitive tree with an intense network of long feeder roots. It is very detrimental close to a cultivated field. It also propogates like mad.

Positive buyabutterfly On Nov 16, 2006, buyabutterfly from Brooker, FL wrote:

Hackberry and Sugarberry are host plants for Tawny Emperor, Hackberry Emperor, American Snout, and Question Mark butterflies as well as several moths.

Positive frostweed On Mar 4, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Sugar Hackberry, is Native to Central and East Texas, and provides food for many species of wildlife.

Positive TREEHUGR On Dec 25, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Attention Florida Gardeners!
The sugarberry is a must have tree for every yard. If you don't have one, you're missing out on a great tree that is native and growing in the wild, even way down in Miami-Dade County.

Not only is it a great shade tree, you'll love the fall (winter) color, yes even in Florida, the leaves turn a bright yellow, even in conditions that aren't ideal.

Wondering what the difference is between the northern Hackberry (c. occidentalis) and the southern hackberry/sugarberry (c. laevigata)? Well, the c. occidentalis occurs in dry upland sites most of the time, whereas the c. laevigata is typically found in wet sites. As far as appearance goes, I have a northern hackberry in my yard and I believe the leaves are somewhat wider and more jaggedy. And if the northern hackberry leaves feel like leather, the sugarberry leaves feel more like vinyl. In other words they don't feel as leathery.

The leaves are pretty distinctive and are "lopsided", although some of the wider leaves look a little like elm leaves to me but then again they are in the same family.

Generally when you read descriptions of the bark, it's described as having warts. The degree to which the warts are recognizable really does vary from tree to tree. Some have a lot and it's very recognizable and some don't. I am adding a couple pictures of the bark to make my point.

I'm also adding some photos of some of the best color I've seen since I moved to Florida.

There are other types of hackberries that are native to Florida. Celtis ehrenbergiana (Spiny / Desert Hackberry)
Celtis iguanaea (Iguana Hackberry)
These are endangered species and are normally found in the southwest counties of the state.

These trees can get big, up to 60-80 feet and are best in moist sites. The fruit berries are a food source to many, many types of birds. They have stood up to two hurricane direct hits in my area and they are not even leaning.

Positive TerriFlorida On Sep 30, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

Hackberry grows amazingly fast when young. I planted a sapling in 1990, and it was a 30' tree when we moved in 2001, with a substantial bole. These trees make wonderful light to medium shade when they get enough water.

The wood is a bit weak, similar to red maple (Acer rubrum) and should not be planted where they will overhang a house or a parking area. I never ate a hackberry fruit, the birds were always there first. This tree also has drooping branches when it has enough water, which made mowing under it before pruning up a bit of an adventure.

I will plant another one on our new property when I figure out where. I know of no higher praise for a large tree.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Hanceville, Alabama
Jacksonville, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Bartow, Florida
Citra, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Largo, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida (2 reports)
Winter Haven, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
New Orleans, Louisiana
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Cincinnati, Ohio
Lititz, Pennsylvania
Bolivar, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Brownsville, Texas
Copperas Cove, Texas
Hondo, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spring, Texas

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