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An individual instance of Celtis laevigata (sugarberry)
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Sugarberry is a native tree that can grow up to 80 feet in height and up to 3 feet in diameter.  It is a short lived tree, probably living not more than 150 years.  It has a broad crown formed by spreading branches that are often drooped.  The bark is light gray in color and can be smooth or covered with corky warts.  The branchlets are covered with short hairs at first and eventually they become smooth.  The leaves are alternated, simple, and slightly serrate.  The leaves are 2-4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide.  The lance-shaped leaves gradually taper to a point that is often curved.  They are pale green on both the upper and lower surfaces with conspicuous veins.  The flowers appear just before or with the leaves in the spring.  The drupes or fruit have a thick skin and the surface has a netlike pattern.  They will range in color from orange to reddish-brown.


Conservation: Sugarberry is used in native landscaping and habitat restorations, and windbreaks.

Ethnobotanic:  Sugarberry was used by a variety of Native American tribes.  The Houma used a concentrate made from the bark to treat sore throats and a decoction made from the bark and ground up shells to treat venereal disease.  The Comanche would beat the fruits of sugarberry to a pulp.  The pulp was then mixed with animal fat, rolled into balls, and roasted in the fire for food.  The Acoma, Navajo, and Tewa all consumed the berries for food.  The Navajo boiled the leaves and branches to make dark brown and red dye for wool.

Wildlife: Many species of songbirds including mockingbirds and robins eat the fruit and use the tree for nesting habitat.  It is a larval and nectar host for two butterflies: hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) and American snout (Libytheana carineta).  White-tailed deer browse the leaves and fruit.

Other Uses: Sugarberry is used for furniture, athletic goods, firewood, and plywood. It has limited use for flooring, creating, and for wood posts.  It is used as an ornamental and as a street tree in residential areas in the lower South

 Adaptation and Distribution

Sugarberry is found growing in sandy loam or rocky soils along streams, in bottomlands, and in woodlands.  Sugarberry ranges south from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida, west to central Texas and northeastern Mexico, and north to western Oklahoma, southern Kansas, Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and western Kentucky.  It is localized in Maryland, the Rio Grande Valley, and northeastern Mexico.  Its range overlaps the southern part of the range of common hackberry (C. occidentalis).


Sugarberry can be propagated by seed and cuttings.  Sugarberry can be rooted from juvenile wood and from root sprouts or suckers.


Houck, M, Anderson, M. (2009). Plant fact sheet for sugarberry (celtis laevigata Willd). Retrieved from

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This particular organism is believed to have managed means of establishment.

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Celtis laevigata


sec. Tennessee Flora 2014

common name: sugarberry
family: Ulmaceae
Identified 2016-03-13 by Patrick Phoebus


Old Main Circle, Rutherford County, Tennessee, US
Click on these geocoordinates to load a map showing the location: 35.8448°, -86.3691°
Coordinate uncertainty about: 10 m.
Altitude: 181 m.

Location calculated as average of its images' coordinates.

Occurrences were recorded for this particular organism on the following dates:

The following images document this particular organism.
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whole tree (or vine) - general
whole tree (or vine) - winter
whole tree (or vine) - winter
bark - unspecified
leaf - showing orientation on twig
fruit - as borne on the plant

Tennessee Flora 2014 =

Tennessee Flora Committee, 2014. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee (editors: E. W. Chester, B. E. Wofford, J. Shaw, D. Estes, and D. H. Webb). The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN, US.

Metadata last modified: 2019-10-16T22:24:42.018-05:00
RDF formatted metadata for this organism