Celtis sinensis ISBN (identifier) Celtis occidentalis

Celtis sinensis3.jpg
Leaves and immature fruit of Chinese hackberry (C. sinensis)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Celtis

Some 60–70 (see about 35 below)

  • Mertensia Kunth 1817 nom. illeg. hom.
  • Momisia F. Dietr. 1819
  • Sparrea Hunz. & Dottori 1978

Celtis is a genus of about 60–70 species of deciduous trees, commonly known as hackberries or nettle trees, widespread in warm temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, in southern Europe, southern and eastern Asia, and southern and central North America, south to central Africa, and northern and central South America. The genus is present in the fossil record at least since the Miocene of Europe, and Paleocene of North America and eastern Asia.[1][2][3]

Previously included either in the elm family (Ulmaceae) or a separate family, Celtidaceae, the APG III system places Celtis in an expanded hemp family (Cannabaceae).[4][5] The generic name originated in Latin and was applied by Pliny the Elder to the unrelated Ziziphus lotus.[6]


Celtis species are generally medium-sized trees, reaching 10–25 m (35–80 ft) tall, rarely up to 40 m (130 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, 3–15 cm (1 14–6 in) long, ovate-acuminate, and evenly serrated margins. Diagnostically, Celtis can be very similar to trees in the Rosaceae and other rose motif families.

Small flowers of this monoecious plant appear in early spring while the leaves are still developing. Male flowers are longer and fuzzy. Female flowers are greenish and more rounded.

The fruit is a small drupe 6–10 mm (1438 in) in diameter, edible in many species, with a dryish but sweet, sugary consistency, reminiscent of a date.

Selected species

Clusters of staminate (male) flowers of C. africana, with four tepals and four stamens each

Formerly placed here

Uses and ecology

Several species are grown as ornamental trees, valued for their drought tolerance. They are a regular feature of arboreta and botanical gardens, particularly in North America. Chinese hackberry (C. sinensis) is suited for bonsai culture, while a magnificent specimen in Daegu-myeon is one of the natural monuments of South Korea. Some, including common hackberry (C. occidentalis) and C. brasiliensis, are honey plants and pollen source for honeybees of lesser importance. Hackberry wood is sometimes used in cabinetry and woodworking. The berries of some, such as Celtis douglasii, are edible, and were consumed by the Mescalero Apaches.[8]


Celtis species are used as food plants by the caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera. These include mainly brush-footed butterflies, most importantly the distinct genus Libythea (beak butterflies) and some Apaturinae (emperor butterflies):

Common beak (Libythea lepita) caterpillars feed on Celtis in Asia


The plant pathogenic basidiomycete fungus Perenniporia celtis was first described from a Celtis host plant. Some species of Celtis are threatened by habitat destruction.



  1. ^ Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. Originally published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Facsimile edition from a scan of the first edition published 2005 by the Kent State University Press, Ohio. ISBN 0873388380. Available online through Google Books. , pp.249–252.
  2. ^ MacPhail, M. K., N. F. Alley, E. M. Truswell and I. R. K. Sluiter (1994). "Early Tertiary vegetation: evidence from spores and pollen." History of the Australian Vegetation: Cretaceous to Recent. Ed. Robert S. Hill. Cambridge University Press. pp. 189–261. ISBN 0521401976. Partially available on Google Books.
  3. ^ Manchester, S. R., Akhmetiev, M. A., & Kodrul, T. M. (2002). Leaves and fruits of Celtis aspera (Newberry) comb. nov. (Celtidaceae) from the Paleocene of North America and eastern Asia. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 163(5), 725-736.
  4. ^ Stevens, P.F., Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Cannabaceae
  5. ^ "Celtis". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  6. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. I A–C. CRC Press. p. 468. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2.
  7. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Celtis". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  8. ^ Peattie, Donald Culross (1953). A Natural History of Western Trees. New York: Bonanza Books. p. 472.
  9. ^ Ravikanthachari, Nitin (April 2018). "Larval host plants of the butterflies of the Western Ghats, India". Research Gate.
  10. ^ Wahlberg, Niklas (October 2006). "Libythea myrrha Godart 1819". Tree of Life Web Project.
  11. ^ Brower, Andrew V.Z. (2006). Problems with DNA barcodes for species delimitation: ‘ten species’ of Astraptes fulgerator reassessed (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Systematics and Biodiversity 4(2): 127–132. doi:10.1017/S147720000500191X PDF fulltext
  12. ^ Hébert, Paul D.N.; Penton, Erin H.; Burns, John M.; Janzen, Daniel H. & Hallwachs, Winnie (2004). Ten species in one: DNA barcoding reveals cryptic species in the semitropical skipper butterfly Astraptes fulgerator. PNAS 101(41): 14812-14817. doi:10.1073/pnas.0406166101 PDF fulltext Supporting Appendices