What it looks like

Northern hackberry is the largest native hackberry, with distinctive warty-ridged bark as it matures. Leaves are 6-9 cm long, with an asymmetrical base and long pointed tip, turning yellow in fall. Single, reddish-purple fruits hang below the leaves and may persist into winter.

Where it is found

Northern hackberry is found in scattered locations across southern Ontario, from Windsor to the Ottawa Valley. It grows commonly in moist bottomlands near rivers and lakes but has proven to be a very adaptable species for dry, windy sites and urban areas.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 15 m tall
  • Moisture: Wet to dry
  • Shade: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Adaptable to all types and wide pH range

In a forest, northern hackberry will form a tall, high canopy, but when planted in the open, will grow as wide as tall, so give it ample space.

Northern hackberry is a suitable replacement for American elm.

Did you know?

The sugar-rich fruit supports many species of birds, and the leaves are food for many kinds of caterpillars.

Image credits

  • Tree: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Leaf: Vern Wilkins
  • Bark: Steven J. Baskauf
  • Fruit: Melissa Spearing