Pronounciation: CELL-tis re-tic-u-LA-ta
Sunset All zones
USDA 1-3 and 10-13
Landscape Use: In Phoenix best used in mesic/xeric transition shade tree, parks, open green spaces, horticultural riparian restoration projects, very large residential landscape settings.
Form & Character: Deciduous broadleaf tree, upright, stout, sturdy, homely, clumsy.
Growth Habit: Strongly upright to 30 to 60 feet in height with near to equal spread, mature branches spreading, young branches are irregular and twisted and sometimes pendulous.
Foliage/Texture: Scabrous (scratchy like fine sandpaper) ovate leaves with an inequalateral base tapering to a acuminate tip, 2 to 3 inches long, veins prominent, slightly serrate, abaxial leaf surfaces are scabrous like sandpaper, trunk is generally smooth and greyish with distinctive hackberry "warts" that eventually ages in Phoenix to become deeply ridged and furrowed; medium coarse texture.
Flowers & Fruits: Flowers insignificant in spring followed by fruits that are a small, orange-reddish drupe to 3/8 inches wide on a 3/8 inch peduncle. Fruits are coveted by birds.
Seasonal Color: Marginal, some yellow brown fall foliar color.
Temperature: Very cold hardy, but will suffer some foliar damage during Phoenix summer extreme heat events.
Light: Full sun
Soil: This tough tree is tolerant of a variety of soil types including those that are alkaline.
Watering: Give infrequent, but regular deep irrigations during the summer.
Pruning: In most urban settings, this tree will need to have its crown raised to the appropriate canopy base height.
Propagation: Seed (cold stratification treatment is required), otherwise softwood to semi-hardwood vegetative cuttings.
Disease and pests: None, noticeably resistant to oak root rot fungus.
Additional comments: Western hackberry is an exceedingly tough tree with a homely and clumsy appearance; ergo, it is rarely planted as an amenity tree in Phoenix landscapes. However, for water conservation and native plantings purposes, western hackberry should be used more often in Phoenix landscapes as a deciduous shade tree. C. occidentalis (eastern hackberry) is very similar but larger and more vigorous with larger foliage to 5 inches long. C. ehrenbergiana (desert hackberry) is a shrubby relative that is indigenous to the desert southwest, and is frankly more servicable than C. reticulata for native desert landscapes. Rather than in the low desert, western hackberry is more suitable as a shade tree for mid-elevation urban landscapes in Arizona cities and towns such as are in Sierra Vista, Benson, Prescott, and Payson. Western Hackberry can naturalize in favorable settings.