American Hackberry
(Celtis occidentalis)

A Pictorial Portrait
American Hackberry Twig with Leaves and Berries

American Hackberry Twig with Berries

This medium sized to tall tree, which grow throughout the northeastern US, has warty, light gray bark and messy-looking twigs pointing in all directions, the result of a non-fatal fungus disease.

The tree grows in parks, fields, floodplains, along fence rows, and in wastelands.

American Hackberry Branch
American Hackberry Branch

The simple (undivided), alternate (configured singly), pointed, finely toothed (serrated) leaves' bases are distinctly uneven: one half is always longer or shorter than the other. The leaves are usually infested with galls, which contain insect larvae.

Hackberry Twigs and Berries
American Hackberry Twigs, Leaves, and Berries

Orange-brown when ripe, each spherical berry, which contains a hard, inedible seed arises independently from the twig via a long, slender stalk. Berries ripen in autumn.

American Hackberry Fruit

The sweet berries taste like the candy coating of M & Ms. Their small size and the hard seeds make it impractical to cook them, but they provide a superb trail nibble.

Relatives of the American Hackberry, also in the genus Celtis, grow throughout the US, all with edible berries.

Hackberry in Flower
American Hackberry Twig in Flower

Tiny, inconspicuous, wind-pollinated flowers bloom in early spring, while the leaves are developing.

Lamb's-quarters in Flower
American Hackberry Flowers

Long, fuzzy male flowers (on the right), produce pollen, which fertilizes the greenish-white, rounded female flowers (on the left) which become the berries.