The hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis) is one of Virginia's common trees along streams and bottomlands. It is easy to recognize with its unique warty, rough bark, often with knots and protuberances on the trunk. It produces pea-sized, dark berries in the fall which are high in calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates - an important food source for migratory birds. The berries tend to stay on the tree throughout the winter, also providing food for overwintering bird species and small mammals.
Native Americans eat the berries by combining them with corn and fat and roasting them over an open fire to create a nutritious mash. The berries can be eaten raw but take more effort to collect than other autumn berries like elderberry (process before eating).
The hackberry tree is the host for a lovely medium-sized butterfly - the hackberry emperor. This friendly little Lepidoptera will often land on your clothing if you move slowly through the forest. They can be coaxed to step onto your hand, particularly on humid hot days when they will gather the salt from perspiration with their tiny proboscis.
9/24/2016 10:04:02 am
Thank you for the fantastic and informative post on the Hackberry Tree. I'm looking forward the next Saturday's Tree ID class because I wouldn't be able to identify a Hackberry from a Hickory Tree. I recognize most Oaks, but that's about it.
10/31/2016 10:38:52 am
Thank you Peggy!
10/27/2016 03:48:04 pm
Just a note that the work Emperor is spelled wrong in the blog.
10/31/2016 10:39:50 am
Jack - thanks for noticing! It is now corrected-
10/27/2016 09:26:10 pm
Chris, what an absolutely beautiful blog ! Congratulations with this valuable tool for ORMN,
10/31/2016 10:40:37 am
Thank you so much! It is a lot of fun writing the articles!
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Have a blog or blog idea?
Let us know (click)
The Reading Corner
Books - Click Here
Field Guides - Click Here
VA Native Plant Society - click
Brenda Clement Jones - click
John Muir Laws' Blog - click
Megan's Nature Nook - click
VMN since 2018