Tree of The Week: Hackberries Excel in Amherst

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I admit that in the old days I thought of hackberry (Celtis) mostly as a common mid-sized native woodland tree, adaptable to variable soil types, but not so much as a landscape plant. Counter to this, Davis Sydnor always extolled hackberries, especially Celtis laevigata (sugarberry), but also common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). I am now becoming educated, Davis.  


Amherst Town Hall: And Hackberries


Hackberry canopy
The canopy of the Amherst hackberry


I notice its successful use as a specimen and as a street tree, from Toronto a few years ago to Ohio cities and campuses. And, earlier this week, while troubleshooting with arborist Al Shauck in Amherst, he showed me some old-school Celtis occidentalis  as a pair of welcoming trees affront the Amherst Town Hall in Lorain County.


  So, my views of hackberries are evolving from earlier appreciation only for its unusual insects (hackberry nipple gall psyllids and others), viruses and witch’s brooms, and its corky bark and woodland survivability.  Now I see that Celtis clearly works as an urban survivor and for its beauty.


hackberry virus symptoms
hackberry virus on an Indiana fencerow tree


hackberry witch's broom
Hackberry witch's broom. Not as common as I think, sayeth Joe Boggs


hackberry fruits and leaves
Hackberry fruits on a Celtis  tree in Davis, California. Hail, Davis!


Celtis is often cited as a member of the elm family (Ulmaceae), but molecular data now places it for many taxonomists in the Cannabaceae, along with Humulus (hops) and, well, you know.  Don’t Bogart those hackberries, my friends, share the word: hackberries are for horticulturists. Check out more at: 


hackberry tree trunk
The beauty of a hackberry trunk on a Montgomery County, Ohio tree