Celtiv laevigata (Sugarberry, Sugar Hackberry)

Tolerant of many soil types, Sugarberry trees are close relatives of Hackberry (C. occidentalis). These trees are quite susceptible to different types of rot and responds poorly to damage. The foliage emerges at slightly different times, a trait rarely seen in deciduous angiosperms.

Celtis laevigata (Sugarberry, Sugar Hackberry)
Family: Ulmaceae
Subspecies: var. texana, var. brachphylla, var. anomala, var. smallii, var. brevipes, var. reticulata
Native: North America
Hardiness Zones: 5-10
Height: to 30 meters (100 feet) tall
Diameter: to 18 meters (60 feet) wide
Root System: shallow, fibrous, lacks distinct taproot, bowl-shaped
Growth Rate: fast
Age: up to 150 years old
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious (both sexes on same plant)
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: drought once established, flooding once established, salt (moderately well), most soil types (except lowland marshes and arid upland slopes), urban pollution
Problems (major): rot (trunk, branch, butt, root), responds poorly to damage, breakage, fire, chlorosis in very alkaline soils, powdery mildew
Problems (minor): witche’s broom, scale, mistletoe parasitism
Poisonous: no
Soil requirements: tolerant of light/sandy and heavy/clay soils with varying pH (except highly alkaline), drainage, and nutrient composition, prefers well-drained moist soil
Air requirements: tolerant of urban air pollution
Watering requirement: prefers moderate, can vary at maturity
Sun requirement: full sun to partial shade
Leaves: simple, ovate to lanceolate, light lime green, yellow in autumn, fine tip, to 10 centimeters (4 inches) long, to 5 centimeters (2 inches) wide, emerge at slightly different times of spring, more slender than C. occidentalis (Hackberry)
Flowers: small, light green, bee pollinated, March-May
Fruits: small, 1 centimeter (0.5 inch) long drupe, hermaphroditic, black
Seeds require stratification: yes
Seed dispersal: by animals (commonly birds) or water
Form: rounded to irregular, zigzag drooping branches have lenticels
Trunk: gray, sometimes corky, mostly flat, thin, susceptible to breakage
Notable characteristics:
Sugarberries are very tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including compacted sites in urban areas.

These are common shade or street trees in the American southeast.
Sources used:

Full canopy, late April

Emerging canopy, late April


Foliage with fruit visible

Foliage and fruit

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


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