Friday, March 9, 2012

Tree of the Week

HackberryCeltis occidentalis L.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Leaves simple, alternate, ovate, 2 1/2 to 4 inches long with petioles 1/3 to 1/2 inch long; margins toothed (sometimes entire at the base); veins forming a network near the margin, the largest three meeting in a single point at the base. Winter twigs very slender, light brown to gray-brown, usually glabrous; pith chambered at the nodes; leaf scars very small, half-round, with 3 (sometimes 1) bundle scars. Buds about 1/8 inch long, ovoid to triangular, closely appressed to the twig, the terminal absent; visible bud scales usually 3 or 4, light brown, finely and rather inconspicuously hairy. Flowers very small, greenish yellow, either perfect or imperfect, apetalous, on slender stalks, solitary or in small clusters from the axils or the newly unfolded leaves in spring. Fruit a dark purple drupe about 1/3 inch in diameter. Bark light to dark gray with distinctive warty outgrowths.

SIMILAR TREES: No other tree has ovate leaves with three veins meeting at the base. The hackberry's warty bark, which is present even on small trees, is also unique

IOWA DISTRIBUTION:Native throughout the state.

Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa: Third Edition, by Peter J. van der Linden and Donald R. Farrar

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