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Life History and Disturbance Response of Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Family: Ulmaceae
Guild: opportunistic, fast-growing understory tolerant
Functional Lifeform: small to medium-size deciduous tree
Ecological Role: common along stream banks and on moist, fertile bottomlands; also occurs on uplands and is drought resistant; establishes and persists under dense shade; rarely colonizes old fields
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 150/200
Shade Tolerance: intermediate
Height, m: 9-29
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: wind
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 15/30/70
Mast Frequency, yrs: 1
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: late spring
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: no
Seedfall Begins: early fall
Seed Banking: 1 yr +
Cold Stratification Required: yes
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: drupe/ variable/ gravity, birds, other animals
Season of Germination: spring
Seedling Rooting System: variable
Sprouting: common on small stems
Establishment Seedbed Preferences:
Substrate: variable
Light: overstory shade
Moisture: moist required
Temperature: neutral
Disturbance response:
Fire: Hackberry increases where fire is suppressed. Though little direct information is available about the relationship between fire and this species, hackberry appears to be sensitive to topkilling and mortality from burning, and decays rapidly when wounded. Small trees may sprout from the root collar. Seedling establishment may occur from surviving trees onsite or from offsite seeds carried by wind or birds and other animals. In prairies where hackberry is invading, prescribed fire may be a useful tool in decreasing the density of hackberry and other hardwoods, and to restore grasslands.
Weather: Hackberry is tolerant of flooding and resistant to drought.
Air pollution: No symptoms of foliar injury were noted in areas of high ambient ozone.