Southern Hackberry (Celtis laevigata) is a medium-sized tree native to North America. Common names include sugarberry or in the southern U.S. sugar hackberry or just hackberry. Sugarberry is easily confused with common hackberry (C. occidentalis) where the range overlaps. Sugarberry has narrower leaves which are smoother above. The species can also be distinguished by habitat: where the ranges overlap, common hackberry occurs primarily in upland areas, whereas sugarberry occurs mainly in bottomland areas. Sugarberry’s range extends from the Eastern United States west to Texas and south to northeastern Mexico. It is also found on the island of Bermuda.
The Hackberry tree has weak wood that breaks under the stresses of snow, ice, and wind. Although sugar hackberry has been used as a street tree in many cities in the South, its use has been banned by other cities because of problems with trunk rot. Wildlife, particularly birds and squirrels, enjoy and seek out hackberry’s nutritious fruits. However, these fruits can develop abundant seedlings that can become a weed pest.
If Trees Could Sing…
Click here to see Jim Lauderdale talk about one of his favorite trees. Video courtesy of The Nature Conservancy and Jim Lauderdale.
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Photos taken at Old Town June 2022.