The Hackberry

The humble Hackberry tree (Celtis) is often called a trash tree. In fact, this is so undeserved. True it is not good for lumber, but wow does it have other great qualities. The Hackberry can live 100-150 years, a great shade tree, and also tolerate air and soil pollutants. Moreover the wildlife love it!

The robins have been hanging out around our place. Look at all the seeds left by the robins! Yep, those are hackberry seeds. The robins and the Cedar Waxwings are just two species that depend on the berries each year.

I don’t know if it is a record crop of berries, but we have not had this many berries at the water before.

Indeed, the remains are everywhere in our woods!

So looking back through my photos, I found numerous critters that depend on the Hackberry. First up, the Hackberry Emperor’s caterpillars use it as a host plant.

Hackberry Petiole Gall Psyllid (Pachypsylla venusta)!

Hackberry Gall Midges (Celticecis).

Hackberry Star Gall Psyllid (Pachypsylla celtidisasterisca).

Small Phigalia (Phigalia strigataria).

Acronicta tota.

White crustose lichens.

Insect eggs.

Crab spider!

Pale-veined Isturgia Moth (Isturgia dislocaria).

Tawny Emperor caterpillars!

Additionally, the bark is just cool!

These are just a few critters I found in my collection of photographs. Thus with all these animals that depend on the humble Hackberry, how can you not love it! Certainly, I have only scratched the surface on what utilizes it. Yep, a great tree!

Keep looking!

The more you know, the more you see and the more you see, the more you know


  1. Totally agree with you. I have been using my cabin’s shade tree, a 15 year old hackberry, to try to change people’s minds. They are so stuck on them as negative, got to get rid of, trees.
    When you have such loss of trees as we do in the Hill Country, we need trees that can fill the need for shade, and quickly. I am protecting saplings as they come up so they can help us reforest. I have two in the old farmhouse yard that came up near where the two pecans died. I will plant a slower growing oak nearby to take their place when they get old and deteriorate. But I can’t wait on the slower growing trees to give me shade in my life time. Thanks for showing just a few of the things that rely on Hackberry.
    In south TX there is a shrub/small tree called Spiny Hackberry. I collected a few berries down in Harlingen and grew them. They make a nice thicket for wildlife cover. The berries are juicy and sweet but I never get any.

    1. Apparently the bad rap was started by lumber companies because it was not a harvestable $$ wood. I was surprised at how long they lived. Do the spiny have more meat on the berries?

  2. I don’t have room for another tree but I have a hackberry stump in the yard utility easement that I coppice each year! We always have a few emperors so it must help!

  3. Thank you for this post. Hackberries get such negative PR. I regularly explain their virtues to anyone who will listen.

  4. Spiny Hackberry, Celtis pallida, has a very juicy orange berry. In a workshop on edible natives at the NPSOT symposium in Harlingen, we learned that they are a nutritious energy snack along the trail. So I tried it and saved the seeds. Down there they were about 8 ft tall. Mine stay about 4 ft maybe because it is so much colder. They also grow on the south side of San Antonio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *