Butterfly Garden Plants

Common Hackberry
(Celtis occidentalis)

Other common names for this plant include American Hackberry

A relative of the Elm tree, Hackberry trees are adaptable to a wide range of light and moisture levels. Often planted for its purple-red fruit that attracts a wide variety of birds, Hackberry can be used as a native alternative for Chinese and Siberian Elms.

Read more about the use of Common Hackberry trees for butterfly gardening in a reprint of an article from Butterfly Gardener magazine: Caterpillar Food Plant: Hackberry

Importance as a butterfly nectar source:
Hackberry is used as a nectar source but it’s popularity varies by location.

Importance as a caterpillar food source:
Hackberry trees provide many butterfly species with caterpillar food. Although the activity is usually high above easy viewing levels, some guidelines for caterpillar identification are:

  • Tawny Emperor caterpillars eggs are laid in large groups of 200 to 500 on Hackberry bark or leaves. The young caterpillars feed in large groups.
  • Hackberry Emperor caterpillar eggs are laid in small groups ranging from one to twenty.
  • American Snout caterpillar eggs are laid in small groups.
  • Caterpillars of the Question Mark butterfly live alone on hackberry leaves.
  • Mourning Cloak caterpillars live together in a web while eating Hackberry leaves.

Cultural Requirements

USDA Hardiness Zone2 to 9
Bloom PeriodNot applicable
Bloom ColorNot applicable
Plant Height60 to 100 feet
Plant SpreadRounded crown
Light ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Soil MoistureMoist but well drained
Animal/Disease ProblemsNone

Native Range

Celtis occidentalis

Plant Rating

Plant rating scale ranges from 0 to 3. Plants rating 3 are the most useful for butterfly gardens. For more details on the ratings, see Native Plant Ratings

Garden Rating3
Nectar Rating0
Caterpillar Rating3