Description & Overview

Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry has characteristic wart-like bark and dark red to purple fruits, lending itself well to bird-centric landscapes.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 2

Mature Height: 40-60 feet

Mature Spread: 40-60 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Upright vase-shaped

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Tolerates a wide range of soil and moisture conditions.

Flower: Polygamomonoecious, insignificant small green flowers

Bloom Period: Late May

Foliage: Medium Green

Fall Color: Sometimes yellow

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Drupe, dark red to purple when ripe, consistent annual production

Suggested Uses

As it tolerates soils that are light to heavy, wet to dry, Common Hackberry is an ideal street tree. Urban pollution, temperature fluctuations, and heavy winds are not a problem for this tree. It can also be used as a specimen plant, in a tree border, or to naturalize an open space.

Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry …
Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry …
Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry …

Wildlife Value

Birds love Hackberry fruit! Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Starlings, Northern Mockingbirds, Bobwhite Quail, pheasants, Wild Turkey, wood ducks, Northern Flickers, and more gobble up the fruit.

Squirrels will also eat the seeds, possibly to get at the seeds and eat the galls. Deer, rabbit, and cattle will occasionally browse on seedlings and saplings. Pond sliders have been observed feeding on leaves after they’ve fallen onto the water surface.

Hackberry is a host plant to the Hackberry Emperor butterfly (Asterocampa celtis), Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton), Wild Cherry Sphinx (Sphinx drupiferarum), Mysterious Olethreutes moth (Olethreutes mysteriana), American Snout (Libytheana carinenta), Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis), Thin-lined Owlet (Isogona tenuis), Hackberry Dagger (Acronicta rubricoma), and Io Moth (Automeris io).

Maintenance Tips

Common Hackberry should be pruned by a trained arborist every 7-10 years for structure. Deformed branches (Witches Broom) can be removed if they are unsightly. As with all trees, maintaining a good mulch ring around the base will maintain good vigor.

We invite you to check out the Arborist For Hire lookup at the Wisconsin Arborist Association website to find an ISA Certified Arborist near you.

Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry …
Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry …

Pests/Problems

Common Hackberry often gets nipple gall, a deformed growth on the leaves caused by insects. This is a purely cosmetic issue and should be considered an ornamental disease.

Witches Broom, a deformity in new twig growth, is caused by the Gall Mite (Eriophyes spp.) and Powdery Mildew. Like Nipple Gall, this disease may be unsightly but will not kill the tree.

Leaf Lore

Common Hackberry is classified in the same family as Hops (Humulus spp.) and Marijuana (Cannabis spp.).

Hackberry is a corruption of the Scottish word ‘Hagberry,’ the name for the Bird Cherry (Prunus avium) found in Britain.

The berries of the tree are edible and ripen in early September. Both the flesh and the seed can be eaten. Timber from Common Hackberry is weak and has poor rot resistance but is sometimes used for crates and fencing.

Companion Plants

Common Hackberry is a great addition to a bird garden and can be combined with Serviceberry, Eastern Redcedar, Coneflowers, and Glossy Black Chokeberry to provide food and cover year-round.

Common Hackberry is a large, Wisconsin native shade tree with a vase shaped canopy. It tolerates tough sites and excels in urban plantings. Hackberry …
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Written by Johnson's Nursery