Celtis occidentalis
Cannabaceae (hemps) (formerly included in the Ulmaceae, the elms)

A medium to large tree with a rounded crown.

Leaves alternate, simple, with one side longer or wider than the other, sharply toothed, rough to the touch, 2–4 inches long, with 3 main veins emerging from the base, tip sharply pointed, base uneven.

Bark gray, rather smooth when young, becoming covered with distinctive corky, warty projections that eventually join into ridges with age.

Twigs slender, usually shiny, flexible, zigzag, light brown, becoming gray. Pith is light colored and broken by intermittent chambers.

Flowers April–May; male flowers in clusters toward base of the new branch; female flowers toward the tip, small, single or in pairs.

Fruits in September, fleshy, berrylike, ¼–½ inch wide, ripening to deep purple, borne on long stems, with a single hard seed within, usually persisting through winter.

Height: 90 feet; spread: 90 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in moist woodlands, in bottomlands and uplands, nearly statewide. Although hackberry prefers moist bottom soil situations, it will grow on any moist, fertile area. Thick clusters of twigs ("witches' brooms") develop on many hackberries, especially ones growing in open areas. A mildew and a mite apparently cause the deformed buds that produce these variant growth patterns.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Until 2009, hackberry and other trees in its genus were placed in the elm family, the Ulmaceae. Nearly all books in print today reflect that understanding. However, scientists are now using new tools to study plant relationships, particularly genetic (DNA) testing. In 2009, a group of botanists called the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group determined that hackberries are actually more closely related to cannabis and hops, so these are all now in the Cannabaceae, or hemp family.
Human connections: 
Hackberry is used, though it is not a favorite plant, for landscaping and for wood products. It has been used in shelterbelt plantings to form windbreaks. Many Native American groups pounded the sweet fruits and used them to season meat and to make corn cakes more tasty.
Ecosystem connections: 
The fruit is eaten by at least 25 species of songbirds, plus turkey, quail, grouse, squirrels and raccoons. Flocks of cedar waxwings congregate to devour the fruits. The hackberry butterfly, a dainty brown and tan butterfly with little eyespots, develops as a larva on hackberry leaves.
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