Common Hackberry, American Hackberry

Celtis occidentalis

Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Celtis (SEL-tis) (Info)
Species: occidentalis (ok-sih-den-TAY-liss) (Info)
Synonym:Celtis canina
Synonym:Celtis occidentalis var. canina
Synonym:Celtis occidentalis var. pumila
Synonym:Celtis pumila
Synonym:Celtis pumila var. deamii
View this plant in a garden


Edible Fruits and Nuts


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

4.5 or below (very acidic)

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

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 softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Moscow, Idaho

Aurora, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Atalissa, Iowa

Benton, Kentucky

Calvert City, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Frankfort, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Paris, Kentucky

Versailles, Kentucky

Williamsburg, Kentucky

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Young America, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Sedalia, Missouri

Helena, Montana

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Belfield, North Dakota

Cincinnati, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Middletown, Ohio

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Brownsville, Texas(2 reports)

Fort Worth, Texas

Lorena, Texas

Montague, Texas

Rockwall, Texas

Glenwood, Utah

Orem, Utah

South Jordan, Utah

Charlottesville, Virginia

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Kimberly, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Sherwood, Wisconsin

Kinnear, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 1, 2019, jep1978 from Shorewood Hills, WI wrote:

I have dozens of hackberry trees on my half acre homestead in Wisconsin, and I really like them. It's not a tree you see all over, but they really thrive on the limestone-rich slopes of my neighborhood. The mature trunks are a pleasing light gray color with a unique pattern of short ridges providing texture. Hackberries cast ample but not oppressive shade. The small dark berries are favored by wild birds (including turkeys, which have gone up on my flat roof to find fallen berries), and also by me - the fruit has a very pleasant date-like flavor with a softly crunchy nut inside.

I can only think of a couple minor down-sides of this tree. First, they sometimes sprout new trunks from roots, which may be several feet or more from the parent tree. This can be a benefit o... read more


On May 6, 2018, GardenTexana from Rockwall, TX wrote:

Some people consider this a trash tree, but I find them very beautiful in the natural landscape. The trunks of mature trees have an interesting texture and birds love them for the fruit and for nesting. Host plant for the Hackberry Emperor butterfly. Their flowing, but not quite weeping, branching structure adds interest to the winter garden. They do get mistletoe and a gall here in North Texas but the trees seem to do just fine. My trees, which were in place for over 40 years on the property line, unfortunately had to be removed for a road widening project. I will be replanting them on a new fence row. These trees are heavy clay tolerant and survive on rainwater (even during drought years).


On May 15, 2016, pogson from Winnipeg,
Canada wrote:

I bought seed from and followed their instructions. I got about 50% germination and have a bunch of seedlings growing in pots. Common Hackberry grows naturally even a bit further north and west of Winnipeg but it has a hard time producing fruit/seed beyond here because of late/early frosts. Otherwise, the trees once established are rugged and can stand the wind and cold and our soil which is clay with a lot of limestone. It's a very attractive and hardy replacement for our elms which are being killed off by Dutch elm disease.


On Mar 6, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A tough, highly adaptable, fairly fast-growing tree native to eastern North America. Highly drought- and wind-tolerant, it's a good shade tree for the plains states where few other trees will grow. Commonly grows to 40-60', rarely approaching 100'. The fruit is relished by birds and wildlife.

In Massachusetts, I have yet to see a tree that isn't seriously disfigured by nipple gall, and the even more disfiguring witches' broom is almost as common.

Cultivars have been selected that are resistant to witches' broom.


On Dec 19, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a fast growing, yet windfirm shade tree that is reliable. Elm-like with grayish warty bark that can become more plated when old. Adaptable to most any soil. The berries are edible for birds. Lives about 150 to 200 years like most shade trees. Should be planted more.


On Apr 6, 2009, eastpiney2000 from Nashville, TN wrote:

This tree is very common in Nashville and has become somewhat "politically incorrect" to have growing! It's the last tree to leaf out in the Spring and, you guessed it, the first to lose its leaves in the Fall. The small fruits made excellent ammunition for our pea shooters in the days of yore. Birds like them, too, but they seem to pass through their digestive tracts nearly whole making a mess on sidewalks and driveways. If you have an old one, you should watch for the very large limbs that can sometimes be as thick as the trunk. They are prone to split off and as large as they are, can cause big damage. Hmm, maybe I see why they're not well-loved, after all!


On Mar 5, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Becoming more commonly planted - still uncommon to rare for home yards in Minnesota - most commomly planted for public projects - a good example is the Hennepin Side of the Coon Rapids Dam. The mature species form what one known professor said "worm casts" - squiggle lines that are short and raised from a mostly smooth to weakly cracked surface.


On Mar 17, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Celtis occidentalis COMMON HACKBERRY Dec (z4) (ENa,B&W,Bon)
Sm fruits turn from or-red to deep-purple & are "sweet and edible raw"(Coon); medium-large tree with shiny, toothed leaves & pebbled bark. Sun/Med.


On Jul 15, 2005, minphilic from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I moved into a house with a mature hackberry next to the driveway. Initially, I thought it would be nice to park under it but I soon began to notice a strange residue on the car that attracted bees. Some kind of sap that dropped like raindrops. Then it started to berry and birds started leaving me little gifts all over my car. All that isn't too bad especially because you don't have to plant the tree next to the driveway, however, it reseeds itself everywhere and it is driving me nuts. I probably have about 10-15 hackberry trees growing vigorously in my backyard; it has potential to be invasive.


On Jan 23, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A beautiful tree that is an asset to the gardens and fields here in this area. The unique bumpy bark provides wonderful winter interest and the small fruits are attractive to birds and wildlife.

It can grow quite large and the trunk is often seen in interesting contorted shapes.

Quite a conversation piece and very nice because the small leaves produce very little litter in the Fall.


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

I have a c. occidentalis growing here in FL.
Although it's found growing in dry upland sites here in the state, my yard is anything but dry upland.

The tree isn't that happy here, I can tell. A better choice for this area is the c. laevigata or southern hackberry/ sugarberry which is found growing in my local area in wet sites.


On Aug 29, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

These trees are very deep rooted, so other plants can be grown close to it, or directly underneath it. The largest species is the Mississippi Hackberry which can grow to 100 ft or more in the wild.

It tolerates a wide range of conditions. Fruits can be messy. It is prone to leaf gall and "witches broom" where branches grow in clusters.

Leaves are pale yellow in autumn.