Thursday, April 7, 2011

Celtis sinensis (Chinese hackberry)

The lovely, tall Celtis sinensis is a real asset as it will grow in any soil type and thrives in conditions ranging from full sun to full shade. This beautiful tree has a wide spreading crown providing cool dappled shade in summer while the interesting tracery of fine grey branches creates a stunning silhouette in winter when the tree is bare. The abundant crop of edible dark orange berries adds extra interest in autumn when the leaves turn golden yellow before falling to the ground. The Chinese hackberry is an important pollen source for honey bees. The magnificent specimen of Celtis sinensis at Daegu-Myeon is one of the national monuments of South Korea.
Botanical Name
Celtis sinensis
Common Name
Chinese hackberry
RSA National Tree No’
Not indigenous
Celtis sinensis is a wonderful addition to the larger garden. With it’s beautiful form and dappled shade it works well as a specimen tree on a large lawn or as a lovely avenue along a driveway. Because the Chinese hackberry tolerates a wide range of growing conditions it is also popular as a street tree or in parks and public areas. The profusion of dark orange berries are relished by birds and the tree is host to several butterfly species. These trees form an outstanding wind break and should be allowed to branch low down if they are planted for this purpose, but if they are planted as an avenue or as a specimen tree, they can be pruned and trained into any suitable shape when young. Plant these trees between 2 ½ m and 3m from buildings or paved areas as the strong surface roots could otherwise cause some damage.                                                    
10m – 12m
Growth Habit
Celtis sinensis is found in a wide variety of habitats from riverine forest, to drier inland areas as well as open woodland.
The smooth to finely rough bark of the Chinese hackberry is pale grey with shallow ridges and furrows that widen towards the base of the tree.
The glossy dark green leaves with pale undersides are 40mm-80mm long. The leaves are elliptic, simple and serrated with pronounced venation. The leaves turn golden yellow in autumn. 
The small, insignificant green flowers appear in spring and are pollinated by bees.
Appearing from autumn to early winter, the plentiful round, fleshy, berry-like fruit is dark orange, ripening to red-brown.
The hard, round seeds are a pale creamy colour and are distributed by birds, bats and running water.
Growing regions
The handsome Celtis sinensis  is native to Japan, Korea and Eastern China
Growing conditions
This tree is highly adaptable and does well in a variety of soil types from moist, fertile conditions to poor dry soils and everything in between. They do equally well whether planted in shade, semi shade or full sun.
Best season
All year
These trees are hardy, withstanding high winds as well as drought conditions.
Seeds germinate readily but a quicker method is to take semi hardwood cuttings, dip them in hormone powder and plant in moist sand.
Growth rate
Chinese hackberry is a fast grower.
Celtis sinensis leaves can be cooked or used to make a tea substitute. The root bark has traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal applications. Some of these include the treatment of dyspepsia, shortness of breath, lack of appetite as well as swollen feet. The wood of this interesting tree has the highest bending tolerance of all species of wood.
            C. sinensis Foliage & Fruit           C. sinensis Seed                  C. sinensis Bark

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