Hackberry, also known as Common Hackberry, Northern Hackberry, or American Hackberry, is present throughout the upper half of the eastern United States, the Great Plains, and southern Canada, including almost all of Ohio. It is a tree that frequents fencerows, fields, and wastelands, and grows naturally near bodies of water, including floodplains and drainage ditches. It is easily recognizable from a distance by its light gray, warty bark on massive trunks, coupled with its rapid growth rate and large size.
It easily grows to 80 feet tall by 60 feet wide when found growing in the open, often with a single trunk that quickly branches into several spreading huge branches that form an ascending or spreading canopy. As a member of the Elm Family, it is related to the Elms and other Hackberries.
Planting Requirements - Hackberry prefers but can adapt to a variety of sites, including soils that are wet or dry, clay or rocky, rich or poor. It performs well emerging from limestone outcrops, although its growth will be slower and its size diminished. It is also very pollution tolerant, as it thrives in the smog and dirty water runoff of cities.
Potential Problems- Hackberry has a host of foliar and twig diseases, all of which are cosmetic in nature (ugly, but not life-threatening). These include nipple gall and powdery mildew (affecting foliage) and witches' broom (clusters of twiggy growth, looking similar to the effects of Sycamore anthracnose). Chlorosis can occur in high pH soils on occasion. In many urban situations, Hackberry is a tree that may invade sites as an "uninvited guest" and is allowed to remain until it gets to be too big of a problem to ignore any longer (rather like Tree-of-Heaven, Boxelder, Common Buckthorn, Amur Honeysuckle, and other woody "weeds").
Its medium growth rate makes it a good candidate for areas in need of erosion control or quick shade. As a tree for tough sites, it has a rather coarse appearance and large ultimate size that discourages its usage as an intended landscape shade tree, but several cultivars are in limited usage with a more refined branching structure and leaf appearance. It is found in zones 3 to 9, growing in full sun.