European Hackberry (Celtis australis)

European Hackberry (Celtis australis)

The European hackberry is a deciduous tree native to Southern Europe. It has quite simple leaves, rounded and asymmetrical at the base, and harsh on top. They almost look like elm leaves but are a lot longer and less wide.

The flowers lack petals and bloom around May. The fruit is small, brown, and resembles an olive. Usually, the fruit will appear around September.

It’s quite a large tree that can grow around 40-50 feet in height, with a spread of 35 feet. It also has a fast growth rate and can live as long as 500 years, possibly even more in the right conditions.

How Do You Plant It?

The European hackberry prefers full light exposure and can grow in dry, poor, and porous soils. It's a perfect tree for warmer environments like California but does not handle low temperatures too well.

Thanks to its drought resistance, you do not need to worry about watering this tree often, unless you are dealing with a particularly dry season. It’s an ideal choice for urban areas because it can withstand harsh conditions. It can also be planted in personal gardens as well, as long as you can offer it enough space to grow:

  • 15 feet from a building
  • 8 feet from walkways or driveways
  • 30 feet from a utility overhead - preferably, you’d plant it in an area where there are no utilities overhead to worry about
  • 30 feet between trees

The Uses of the European Hackberry

This tree comes with very flexible wood, making it a great source for producing tool handles, or canes. The leaves are often used as food for cattle. It’s a popular ornamental tree in Provence, France, where it’s planted to replace older chestnut trees or sick elms that need to be removed from the city.


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