Celtis ehrenbergiana – Spiny Hackberry

Celtis ehrenbergiana - Spiny Hackberry, Desert Hackberry

Celtis ehrenbergiana - Spiny Hackberry, Desert Hackberry

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Celtis ehrenbergiana

Synonyms: Celtis pallida, C. spinosa, Momisia pallida

Common Names: Spiny Hackberry, Desert Hackberry

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen (may lose leaves after hard frosts)

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert

Flower Color: Inconspicuous (whitish)

Flowering Season: Summer

Height: To 10 feet (3 m) tall

Description: The inconspicuous flowers are followed by bright orange berries. The leaves are green, rough-textured, alternate, oval-shaped, and variable in size. The stems are woody and covered in large, woody spines up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.

Birds enjoy the fruit and Coyotes (Canis latrans) will eat the leaves. Dogs also will eat the leaves.

These plants are available in native plant nurseries.

Special Characteristics

Allergenic – The flowers produce allergenic pollen.

Butterfly Plant – Emperor butterfly caterpillars (Subfamily Apaturinae) like those of the Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) feed on the leaves, while the adult male Emperor butterflies are often found waiting on the plants for passing females.

Edible – The ripe orange fruits are blandly sweet and edible, but they are small and seedy.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Hamamelididae
Order: Urticales
Family: Ulmaceae – Elm family
Genus: Celtis L. – hackberry
Species: Celtis ehrenbergiana (Klotzsch) Liebm. – spiny hackberry

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map
Spiny Hackberry Berries – The Firefly Forest