Celtis australis
Common Name: Mediterranean hackberry 
Type: Tree
Family: Cannabaceae
Native Range: Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor
Zone: 8 to 9
Height: 40.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 40.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil, Air Pollution

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 7B or 8 where it is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates part shade. Also tolerates wind, many urban pollutants and a wide range of soil conditions, including both wet, dry and poor soils.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Celtis australis, commonly known as Mediterranean hackberry, European hackberry or European nettle tree, is a medium to large deciduous tree that typically grows 40-70’ tall with upright-arching branching and a rounded spreading crown. Trunk diameter ranges from 1-3’ (less frequently to 4’). It is native to the Mediterranean area (southern Europe, northern Africa and southwestern Asia). Mature trees have smooth gray bark. Rough textured, sharply-toothed, ovate-lanceolate, dark green leaves (to 5" long) taper to long points. Leaves are gray pubescent beneath. Undistinguished yellow fall color. Apetalous, unisexual or bi-sexual flowers appear in spring (April-May). Female flowers give way to a crop of rounded, fleshy, berry-like drupes (fruits) which mature in fall to dark purple. Fleshy parts of each drupe are edible and somewhat sweet. Each drupe (1/4" diameter) has one round seed within. Drupes are attractive to a variety of wildlife. Birds consume the drupes and disperse the seeds.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for another tree.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word austral meaning southern.

Problems

Witches’ broom (dwarfed, dense, contorted twig clusters at the branch ends) is common in some areas. It does no significant harm to the tree, but can produce unsightly results. Hackberry nipple gall (disfigures leaves) is less of a problem with this species than with Celtis occidentalis. Powdery mildew, leaf spot and root rot may occur. Watch for lacebugs and scale.

Uses

Mediterranean hackberry is not winter hardy to the St. Louis area. It is a tough shade tree that grows in a wide range of soils. Cultivars resistant to witches' broom are better selections than the species for landscape use. This tree may be used as a lawn tree or street tree. Seeds can pose clean up problems if trees are sited near sidewalks or patios, however.