Contact your local county Extension office through our County Office List.

Close Icon
Master Gardeners enhance Colorado communities through outreach, education and environmental stewardship.

Common Hackberry   arrow

Celtis occidentalis (sel’-tis ok’si-den-tae’-lis)
Family: Ulmaceae, Elm

Key Steps


Hackberry leafLeaf: Medium to light green, uneven base, widest at base, 3-7 inches long. Coarsely toothed except smooth at base. Net-like venation, 3 conspicuous veins branching from base. Long narrow tapering tip. Hackberry Nipple Gall (small round balls) usually found on underside of leaf.

Bud: Usually arranged in two rows along the stem. Buds are very small, narrow, pointed, pressed close to stem. Hard to see. Scales are hairy.

Leaf Scar: Crescent-shaped, raised. Three bundle scars. Stipule scars.

Stem: Slender, grayish, zig-zaggy. Lots of gray lenticels on young growth.

Bark: Gray-brown to dark brown. Older bark is “warty” or knobby.

Pith: Usually chambered throughout or near leaf scars; white, small.

Flower: Female is greenish, solitary, in leaf axil. Male in clusters of 1, 2 or 3, at base of new growth.

Fruit: Solitary, edible, round berries hang down from branches. Start out orange-red and turn to dark purple.

Habit: Irregular branching, large shade tree, vase-shaped, dense, broad, spreading. Very “twiggy”. 45 feet tall by 40 feet spread.

Culture: Tolerates low moisture conditions once established. Adaptable to wind and alkalinity. Prone to snow load damage and decay.