Celtis, commonly known as hackberries, is a genus of about 60-70 species of deciduous trees widespread in warm temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, in southern Europe, southern and eastern Asia, and southern and central North America, south to central Africa, and northern and central South America. The genus is present in the fossil record at least since the Miocene of Europe.
Previously included either in the elm family (Ulmaceae) or a separate family, Celtidaceae, the APG III system places Celtis in an expanded hemp family (Cannabaceae).
The generic name originated in Latin and was applied by Pliny the Elder (23-79) to the unrelated Ziziphus lotus.
Celtis species are generally medium-sized trees, reaching 10–25 m (33–82 ft) tall, rarely up to 40 m (130 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, 3–15 cm (1.2–5.9 in) long, ovate-acuminate, and evenly serrated margins.
Small monoecious flowers appear in early spring while the leaves are still developing. Male flowers are longer and fuzzy. Female flowers are greenish and more rounded.
The fruit is a small drupe 6–10 mm (0.24–0.39 in) in diameter, edible in many species, with a dryish but sweet, sugary consistency, reminiscent of a date.
Uses and ecology
Several species are grown as ornamental trees, valued for their drought tolerance. They are a regular feature of arboreta and botanical gardens, particularly in North America. Chinese Hackberry (C. sinensis) is suited for bonsai culture, while a magnificent specimen in Daegu-myeon is one of the natural monuments of South Korea. Some, including Common Hackberry (C. occidentalis) and C. brasiliensis, are honey plants and pollen source for honeybees of lesser importance. Hackberry wood is sometimes used in cabinetry and woodworking.
The berries are often eaten locally. The Korean tea gamro cha (감로차, 甘露茶) contains C. sinensis leaves.
Celtis species are used as foodplants by the caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera. These include mainly brush-footed butterflies, most importantly the distinct genus Libythea (beak butterflies) and some Apaturinae
The plant pathogenic basidiomycete fungus Perenniporia celtis was first described from a Celtis hostplant. Some species of Celtis are threatened by habitat destruction.
Thanks to wikipedia.org