Hackberry | Tree Identification, Uses, and Workability


Hackberry(Celtis occidentalis) is also known as the sugarberry, northern hackberry, and American hackberry. It is native to Eastern North America. Hackberry is not available outside its natural range and It is also not exported on a large scale to other countries.

Hackberry wood is mainly used for making furniture, boxes, and small objects. It is not considered suitable for exterior applications as it does not have good rot resistance properties. But with regular maintenance it is long-lasting.

Its straight grain gives a uniform appearance. Hackberry is moderately hard, heavy, and has overall good bending strength, But It has a nice steam-bending assortment. 

Scientific Name:Celtis occidentalis, Celtis laevigata
Tree Size: 9 to 15 meters (30 to 50 ft) in height
Trunk Diameter:.3-.6 meters (1-2 ft)
Dried Weight:37 lbs/ft3 (595 kg/m3)
Janka Hardness: 880 LBF (3,910 N)
Wood colorlight brown to gray
Rot Resistancenon-durable
UsesFurniture, boxes/crates, veneer, turned objects
Hackberry Properties

Hackberry Uses



Hackberry wood is heavy, soft, coarse-grained. It is mainly used for cheap furniture. It is not very durable. Hackberry rots easily. Regular paint and polish are needed to prevent rot.

With some precautions, you can use it for interior furniture. But it is not suitable for exterior furniture. Where the weather has a direct effect. Its density is very low so that it absorbs moisture very easily and starts rotting.


It is low-density wood that is suitable for making small objects such as Boxes/Crates and small decorative objects. Small objects can be easily shaped if the wood is light and soft. And it is necessary for the boxes to be light with strength so that there is no difficulty in transportation.


The bark, flowers, leaves, and other parts of the tree have been used in medicine since ancient times. Hackberry bark is useful in treating the menstrual cycle, cold and sore throat. Native Americans were using it for a long time. 

However, now no one would like to take this kind of treatment. Any kind of treatment in itself can be dangerous, so do consult a doctor.


Native Americans use the hackberry tree as a source of food. Animals and birds living on trees also consume these fruits.

It is a very dense tree. Which is planted as a shade tree on the side of the garden and road. 

Hackberry as Firewood

as firewood

Hackberry can be used as good firewood. It’s not the best firewood, but it’s not the worst either. Hackberry has some good properties for firewood such as it splits easily, burns easily, burns longer, and generates medium heat.

Due to the low density and hardness of Hackberry wood. You do not have to work very hard to split it. Even a beginner can split it easily. If we talk about BTU value then, Its BTU value is 21.2 Heat per Cord (Million BTUs). It does not produce as much heat as hickory or oak wood.

In order to produce more heat for the wood to burn well, it is necessary that the wood should be well dried and cut in the right size. Due to the presence of moisture in the wood, it does not burn properly and leaves more smoke. So before burning any wood, check the moisture present in the wood. The moisture content of the wood should not exceed 20%. If the moisture content in the wood is 15% then it is better.

Hackberry  Workability

Hackberry has good working characteristics with both hand and machine tools. It’s the straight grain that planes and turns well. No pre-drilling is required to apply nails and screws. This saves a lot of time for the carpenter.

Sometimes there are knots and interlocked wooden parts. Which can cause difficulty while working. Especially it creates difficulty when you are working on the machine.

Is Hackberry Water-resistant?

Most of the owners are curious to know whether the wood they are using is waterproof or not. So no wood is 100% waterproof. Just some wood performs well in moisture and water. While some woods are not.

Hackberry wood is not water-resistant. Its open grain absorbs the moisture easily and it starts to rot. It is also susceptible to fungal discoloration and insect attacks.

However, by painting and polishing, it can be made water-resistant for some time. Which closes the open grain pores, which moisture and dust do not harm the wood grain. But it doesn’t work for very long. It needs regular maintenance and care.

Hackberry Tree Identification

The length of the hackberry tree is about 9 to 15 meters and the diameter is about 1-2 feet. The lifespan of the common hackberry can be around 150-200 years in ideal conditions. It is not very difficult to recognize its tree, but it may be a little difficult to recognize new people (who have less knowledge of wood).

Although Hackberry prefers rich moist soil but can grow on gravel or rocky hills. A Common Hackberry tree is germinated by seed. It grows well in the Sun to half-shade.

Bark Identification

The bark is light gray or silvery brown in color. The bark of a young tree is smooth, and that of an older tree is slightly rough and cracked.

Leaves Identification

hackberry leaf

Hackberry leaves are arranged alternately on the branches. Leaves are glossy green, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate and the base is rounded and asymmetric. When new leaves emerge, their color is light green. Over time, the color of the leaves becomes dark green.

Leaf size is about 2-5 inches long, with strongly unequal bases and a sharply tapering tip. Its leaves fall after turning bright yellow.

Flower Identification

hackberry flower

The flower is greenish-white and comes shortly after the leaf shoots. Flowers bloom on trees in the month of May. Its flowers are fragrant.

Fruit Identification


The hackberry produces small, dark-red berries. Which turns purple as it matures. Berries are edible and highly nutritious. There is a seed in the center of its fruit. You will find it in the fruit shop in the market.

Wood Identification

The heartwood of hackberry wood is light brown to gray, While the sapwood is light yellow. It almost looks like white ash wood. Its Grain is usually straight or occasionally slightly interlocked.