Hackberry, Nettle Tree

Celtis spp. L.

Ulmaceae (Elm family)


Hackberry species occur throughout Texas; five species are trees and one species is shrublike. The two species most common across the state are Celtis laevigata, also called "Sugarberry" or "Sugar Hackberry," and C. laevigata, var. reticulate, most commonly known as "Netleaf Hackberry" or "Western Hackberry." You can find each of these species listed separately here in the Plants of Texas Rangelands database.    Hackberry trees have strong tap roots and many shallow, spreading roots. The bark is mostly smooth and gray, with small bumps or warts on the older stems. The wood has a characteristic yellowish-white color.    The leaves of hackberry have a rough texture, like sandpaper. They are alternate and simple, with usually smooth edges. The leaves are 2-4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide and gradually taper to a point that is curved. The leaf underside has large, netlike veins. Although not noticeable, the flowers occur in early spring and develop into rounded, succulent, reddish brown to black fruits (drupes) that persist on the tree throughout the winter.    The forage value is fair for wildlife, primarily birds, and poor for livestock. 


Hackberry grows in rocky draws, arroyos, and other low areas receiving adequate moisture. It can also grow in thickets, open woodlands, and along stream and riverbanks