Sugarberry, Southern Hackberry
Celtis laevigata
Cannabaceae


Landscape Uses:

Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also as an accent tree.

Ecological Restoration Notes:

An occasional element in hammocks, often associated with past aboriginal activity.
Availability:
Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida. Available at Indian Trails Native Nursery in Lake Worth (561-641-9488).
Description:
Medium to large tree with a broadly rounded crown. Trunk straight, 1-2 feet in diameter. Bark smooth with few or many warts. Leaves thin, 2-5 inches long. A temperate deciduous species.
Height:
Typically 25-50 feet in height in South Florida; to 100 feet in Florida. Taller than broad.
Growth Rate:
Moderate to fast.
Range:
Eastern and central United States south to Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland; northeastern Mexico. Apparently absent from the southernmost barrier islands in Miami-Dade, Broward Collier and Lee counties. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
Habitats:
Swamps and humid forests.
Soils:
Moist, moderately well-drained to well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer.
Nutritional Requirements:
Moderate to high; grows best with some organic content and may languish in nutrient poor soils.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.
Drought Tolerance:
Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.
Light Requirements:
Light shade to full sun.
Flower Color:
Green.
Flower Characteristics:
Inconspicuous.
Flowering Season:
Spring.
Fruit:
Yellow to orange to red to dark purple fleshy drupe; late summer to fall. Edible, sweet.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. In most of peninsular Florida, it is the sole larval host plant for American snout (Libytheana carineta), hackberry emperor (Aterocampa celtis), and tawny emperor (Asterocampa clyton) butterflies; is is also the larval host for the question mark (Polygonia interrogationis) butterfly, which also feeds on elms (Ulmus species) and false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica). Birds and other animals readily eat the sweet fruits.
Horticultural Notes:
Can be grown from seed, which should be sown as soon as the fruit is ripe.
Comments:
Common in some hammocks in South Florida, but missing in many others.


Shirley Denton
Shirley Denton
Keith A. Bradley