Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Common Hackberry - Celtis occidentalis   L.
Members of Cannabaceae:
Members of Celtis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Urticales » Family Cannabaceae
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DistributionScattered over much of the Mountains and Piedmont. Generally absent over all of the Coastal Plain, even though it ranges south in VA close to much of the border of these two provinces. However, this species escapes readily, and it may be that its natural distribution in the state is primarily the Mountains and rarely into the northern Piedmont (as on the RAB [1968] map and on the BONAP map).

This is a wide-ranging Northern and Midwestern species. It occurs from Canada south to SC, GA, and TX, but is very scarce south of VA.
AbundanceGenerally rare to locally uncommon in the Mountains, and rare farther eastward, where many (if not most) locations might not be natural. This is an NC Watch List species.
HabitatThis species is a near strict “mafic” species, found almost always in high pH soils. However, it can be found on bluffs, rocky slopes, river banks, and bottomlands. In the Mountains of NC, most records are from rocky woods and slopes/bluffs, but over mafic/calcareous rocks.
PhenologyFlowers from March to May; fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis is a familiar tree to our North and Northwest, but it is not familiar to most biologists in the state. It is a small to medium deciduous tree, mostly growing to 40-50 feet tall. As with Celtis laevigata, the gray bark is heavily adorned with numerous warty projections, making it readily identifiable as a hackberry species. It has alternate, ovate to somewhat lanceolate leaves with some serrations along the margins, growing to about 3-3.5 inches long. These leaves are wider than those of the quite lanceolate leaves of C. laevigata of rich bottomlands and riverbanks. Also, the leaves are paler below than above, whereas C. laevigata leaves are quite green below. The much smaller C. pumila is quite similar to C. occidentalis and must be separated with care. See that species for identification.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has no taxonomic issues as a valid species. However, many references in the past included C. pumila within it, as C. occidentalis var. georgiana (e.g., RAB 1968). Such references thus had this species listed as C. occidentalis var. occidentalis.

Other Common Name(s)Hackberry, Northern Hackberry, American Hackberry

State RankS2 [S3?]
Global RankG5
State StatusW7
US Status
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