Foliage Friday: The Common Hackberry

The tree in front of the house, underwhich I park my car, has decided to drop all of its leaves now.

I usually have to brush them off my car’s windshield when I go to work in the morning.

I noticed that the yellow leaves and purple berries are actually quite pretty.

What is this tree?

It is Celtis occidentalis, also known as the Common Hackberry

This tree is similar to, and sometimes mistaken for, the American Elm. It actually used to classified in the Elm family (Ulmaceae), but has been reclassified into the Hemp (Cannabaceae) family (don’t ask me why). Unlike the American Elm, the Common Hackberry is resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus that has killed off many elm trees in Europe, the U.S., and Canada

One way to distinguish the Elm from the Hackberry is their leaves. The Hackberry has three main veins that run from the base to the end of the leaf. The elm only has one main vein.

Hackberry leaf
Elm leaf (image from: source)

Although some people think the Hackberry looks like an Elm, the Hackberry tree supposedly gets its common name due to its similarity to the Scottish Hagberry tree, which has a similar fruit and growth habit.

The edible fruits are dark purple when mature and are edible. I read that they taste kind of like dates, so I decided I should try one.

Its flavor is, indeed, similar to dates, but the seed-to-fruit ratio is nearly 90% (the edible part of the fruit is really just a thin rind around a large hard seed), so I wouldn’t recommend these as a food source.

As seems to be the pattern with all of my Foliage Fridays, as soon as I decide to write about a particular plant, I begin to see it everywhere. The common hackberry is no exception. There are three I found on my block alone.