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Home Page | Selecting Trees for Biodiversity | Elm Family

Sugar Hackberry (Celtis laevigata)

The sugar hackberry, is a moderate sized tree in the urban setting (40-60 feet). It is commonly planted as a street tree in the south, but will survive in zone 5 and should be considered as a biodiversity candidate in more northerly climates. The tree has a attractive bark, similar to that of American Beech, and tolerates urban situations fairly well, as would be expected since the tree is a member of the elm family. Sugar hackberry is tolerant of moderate salt spray, tolerates poor, wet soils and periodic salt water flooding on roots, which would make it an excellent choice as a street tree in zones 5 and 6. Once established, the tree is also quite drought tolerant.

One possible drawback to northern use is that the tree is somewhat susceptible to wind and ice damage, however, we regularly plant many trees in zones 4-6 which are equally susceptible to this problem, some more so. Sugarberry has no major diseases of the twigs and leaves, however eastern mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens) can be a problem if there is a local source of the pathogen.

Sugar hackberry produces mild allelopathic chemicals that may reduce growth of certain grasses and other plants close to the tree. Sugarberry is found growing in wet and dry coastal habitats, and is found along the south coast of Lake Erie (zone 5/6). It also grows along the edge of salt water marshes and fresh water wetlands, and provides an excellent source of food for wildlife.

For More Information, check out the Virginia Tech Dendrology Page.

Sugar Hackberry Bark of Sugar Hackberry
Mature Sugar Hackberry, Ohio. (photos courtesy OSU dept. of Urban Forestry)

(If you have a photo of these trees in an urban environment that you would like to donate for use on this site, please contact the webmaster.)

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T. Davis Sydnor, Ph. D. and Nick E. D'Amato
Urban Forestry Department
School of Natural Resources
The Ohio State University
2021 Coffey Road,
Columbus OH 43210
(614) 292-3865