Scientific name: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
Alternate Names: Western Hackberry, Sugarberry, Paloblanco
Description: This small tree or large shrub is common throughout the Southwest and grows to 30 feet in height, sometimes taller. It is extremely hardy once established. It can often be found in areas where water is present (streams, canyons, etc.) While young, it may have an asymmetrical shape, that rounds out somewhat as it matures. It’s berries are popular to birds and other wildlife.
Leaves: The slightly heart-shaped, rough, dark green leaves have a noticeably lopsided shape. Where the leaf connects to the stem, one side of the leaf is often larger than the other. Leaves are alternate, the margins smooth, occasionally toothed near the base, 1 to 2 1/2 inches long and strongly veined. Leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Flowers: Inconspicuous, small, greenish flowers appear in March and April.
Fruits: Orange-red, sweet, edible drupes about 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter, contain one seed. Birds seek out these drupes to eat.
Size: 30 to 60 feet in height; 30 to 50 feet in width
Elevation: Up to 7500 feet
Climate-Readiness: Climate-ready throughout New Mexico (USDA Zones 3 to 9)
Water Requirements: 18 inches precipitation equivalent.
Habitat: This hackberry is mostly confined to areas with a constant water supply, such as moist soils along streams, drains from roofs or other such catchments. It will need supplemental water in other areas.
Sun Requirements: Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.
Uses: Windbreaks, landscapes, wildlife habitat & food, used as fuel and fence posts.
Advantages: When established, the Netleaf Hackberry will perform admirably in urban conditions, desert heat, drought, strong winds, and dry, alkaline soils. They also have the virtue of deep roots that won’t crack nearby pavement and won’t prevent you from growing lawn beneath them.
Management & Care: Can benefit from pruning to keep a more symmetrical appearance.
Pests: Resistant to oak root fungus. Only pest problems of note seem to be occasional aphid attack and swollen leaf galls caused by insects. Witches broom (an occasional profusion of twigs near the ends of branches) does not debilitate or harm the tree.