Hackberry is a Chicago-area native and a sturdy, tolerant shade tree for streets and parkways, or parks and other large areas. Its fleshy, purple-brown berries ripen in late summer and persist through winter. The persistent fruits attract many birds that also find the tree to be a suitable nesting site.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Highly susceptible to ice damage,
- Weak wood and branch structure
- Fall color,
- Edible fruit,
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Attractive bark
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Cavity-nesting birds,
- Game birds,
- Game mammals,
- Migrant birds,
Tree & Plant Care
Full sun in well drained soil, pH tolerant
A relatively low-maintenance tree
Prune during dormant season
Disease, pests and problems
Heavy aerial salt can cause witch’s broom and hackberry nipple gall.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Very tolerant of many soil and weather conditions.
Native geographic location and habitat
Found in a variety of habitats.
Bark color and texture
Smooth grayish bark when young, but develops corky warts and ridges with age.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate leaves, 2 to 4 inches long; simple, ovate to egg-shaped with a dull, rough surface.
Leaves look similar to elm leaves.
Medium green leaves turn a yellow fall color
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Inconspicuous; some flowers are male, some female and some perfect.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
A single fleshy berry-like drupe, 1/3 inch diameter, starts out green changing to a deep purple-brown.
Ripen in late summer, persisting through winter.
Chicagoland Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis 'Chicagoland'): 50 feet high and 40 feet wide; a neat upright-oval habit of growth and a strong central leader, narrower than the species
Magnifica Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis 'Magnifica'): 50 feet high and 40 feet wide; broadly oval to vase shaped
Prairie Pride Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis 'Prairie Pride'): A uniform, compact oval crown reaching 50 feet high and 40 feet wide; thick leathery foliage, resistant to witches broom
Prairie Sentinel™ Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis 'JFS-KSU1'): A tightly columnar, fastigiate habit; 45 feet high and 12 feet wide
Ultra™ Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis 'Ulzam'):A rounded habit reaching 50 feet wide and 40 feet wide; blue-green foliage