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The common hackberry is a particularly hardy, deciduous tree that is easy to identify by its whitish-gray, stucco-like bark.  Also called Northern hackberry because of its northern native habitat, it grows fairly quickly in a wide range of soils, temperatures, moisture levels, and even in standing water.  Hackberry is one of the best food-and-shelter plants for wildlife—it hosts 47 lepidoptera species, and birds consume huge quantities of the small, round fruits, which are also edible to humans. The fantastic texture of the trunk is formed by irregular, ridged bumps of cork that protect the tree from the elements and insects. This tough tree can act as a windbreak on the plains, a shade tree in a park, a pollution-defying street tree, and a water-conserving plant that offers cooling shade for homes.  The fruit, twigs, and foliage will add litter to surrounding areas, and hackberry is prone to several harmless cosmetic diseases, including witches’ brooms and hackberry nipple gall.  


Found throughout Ohio, most commonly near rivers and streams, but also on floodplains, fencerows, rocky hillsides, sand barrens, fields, wastelands, and in drainage ditches. It thrives on streets and in areas with pollution, and its rate of growth makes it a good candidate for erosion control or quick shade.  Plant it 20 feet away from buildings and sidewalks because roots can be strong and invasive.  


Plant Characteristics:

Reaches 60-100’ tall and 25-45’ wide at maturity.


Grows best in full sun, but tolerates part shade.


Prefers rich, moist soil but adapts well to dry, clay, rocky, and poor soils.  In limestone, growth will be slower and diminished.  Withstands flooding and drought.


Small green flowers in April or May develop into rou