Butterfly Garden Plant Celtis occidentalis Common Hackberry

Butterfly Garden Plants

Common Hackberry

(Celtis occidentalis)

Other common names for this plant include American Hackberry

General Information
Cultural Requirements
Native Range
Plant Rating
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General InformationNABA_DividerBar

A relative of the Elm tree, Hackberry trees are adaptable to a wide range of light and moisture levels. Often planted for its purple-red fruit that attracts a wide variety of birds, Hackberry can be used as a native alternative for Chinese and Siberian Elms.

Read more about the use of Common Hackberry trees for butterfly gardening in a reprint of an article from Butterfly Gardener magazine: Caterpillar Food Plant: Hackberry

Importance as a butterfly nectar source:
Hackberry is used as a nectar source but it’s popularity varies by location.

Importance as a caterpillar food source:
Hackberry trees provide many butterfly species with caterpillar food. Although the activity is usually high above easy viewing levels, some guidelines for caterpillar identification are:

  • Tawny Emperor caterpillars eggs are laid in large groups of 200 to 500 on Hackberry bark or leaves. The young caterpillars feed in large groups.
  • Hackberry Emperor caterpillar eggs are laid in small groups ranging from one to twenty.
  • American Snout caterpillar eggs are laid in small groups.
  • Caterpillars of the Question Mark butterfly live alone on hackberry leaves.
  • Mourning Cloak caterpillars live together in a web while eating Hackberry leaves.


Cultural RequirementsNABA_DividerBar

USDA Hardiness Zone 2 to 9
Bloom Period Not applicable
Bloom Color Not applicable
Plant Height 60 to 100 feet
Plant Spread Rounded crown
Light Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Moisture Moist but well drained
Animal/Disease Problems None


Native RangeNABA_DividerBar
Celtis occidentalis







Plant RatingNABA_DividerBar
Plant rating scale ranges from 0 to 3. Plants rating 3 are the most useful for butterfly gardens. For more details on the ratings, see Native Plant Ratings

Garden Rating 3
Nectar Rating 0
Caterpillar Rating 3


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