Celtis occidentalis

Continue toward the river to the Hackberry. Look for the corky, warty bark and the leaves with uneven bases. Many species of birds feed on the small, cherry-like fruit, including woodpeckers and cedar waxwings. The leaves may bear galls which seemingly don’t hurt the tree. The trees produce pea-sized berries that are edible, ripening in early September. Unlike most fruits, the berries are remarkably high in calories from fat, carbohydrates and protein, and these calories are easily digestible without any cooking or preparation. Native Americans like the Omaha ate the berries casually, while the Dakota Sioux pounded the berries fine, seeds and all, for use as a meat flavoring. The berries have little meat on them, and a hard seed within. There is a small edible nut within the seed.

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

Last updated: April 7, 2021