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SPECIES:  Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
Creative Commons image by T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University,


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Tirmenstein, D. A. 1990. Celtis laevigata var. reticulata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Updates: On 21 February 2018, the scientific name of this taxon was changed in FEIS from Celtis reticulata to Celtis laevigata var. reticulata. Images were also added.
FEIS ABBREVIATION: CELLAER SYNONYMS: Celtis rugulosa Rydb. Celtis reticulata Torr. [82] NRCS PLANT CODE: CELAR COMMON NAMES: netleaf hackberry hackberry palo blanco western hackberry TAXONOMY: The scientific name of netleaf hackberry is Celtis laevigata Willd. var. reticulata (Torr.) L.D. Benson (Ulmaceae) [69,83]. Some authorities delineate two forms of netleaf hackberry on the basis of leaf size [63]. Still others recognize many intergrading forms [33]. Netleaf hackberry is a highly variable and taxonomically confusing taxon [41,63]. Hybridization is common within the genus Celtis and most species are poorly defined [23]. Intergrading forms and ecotypic variants are common [23]. Netleaf hackberry readily hybridizes with sugarberry (Celtis laevigata var. laevigata), and populations with intermediate characteristics have been reported [74]. See the FEIS review of sugarberry for information on other varieties of Celtis laevigata. LIFE FORM: Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Netleaf hackberry grows throughout scattered portions of the Great Basin, Pacific Northwest, and Southwest [44]. Its range extends from southern Nebraska south through central Kansas and Colorado into Texas and northern Mexico [46,63], westward to southern California, and north through Washington and Oregon into Idaho [23,46].
Distribution of netleaf hackberry. 1976 USDA, Forest Service map digitized by Thompson and others [84].
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES31  Shinnery
   FRES32  Texas savanna
   FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES40  Desert grasslands

     AZ  CA  CO  ID  KS  NE  NV  NM  OK  OR

    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains

   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodlands
   K027  Mesquite bosques
   K031  Oak - juniper woodland
   K033  Chaparral
   K038  Great Basin sagebrush
   K041  Creosotebush
   K042  Creosotebush - bursage
   K044  Creosotebush - tarbush
   K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
   K071  Shinnery
   K084  Cross Timbers
   K098  Northern floodplain forest

    63  Cottonwood
    67  Mohrs ("shin") oak
    68  Mesquite
   239  Pinyon - juniper
   240  Arizona cypress
   241  Western live oak
   242  Mesquite


Netleaf hackberry grows as an overstory dominant or codominant in a
number of communities, including riparian woodlands of the Southwest and
narrow gallery forests of eastern Washington and west-central Idaho.
Common codominants include live oak (Quercus virginiana), cedar elm
(Ulmus crassifolia), cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), bluebunch wheatgrass
(Pseudoroegneria spicata), and sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus).
Published classifications listing netleaf hackberry as a dominant or
indicator in community types (cts), habitat types (hts), or plant
associations (pas) are presented below.

Area                    Classification            Authority

w-c ID                  grassland and shrubland   Tisdale 1986b
                        hts, cts
w-c ID, e WA            riparian cts              Miller and Johnson 1986
OK                      western oak cts           Dooley and Collins 1984
OR, ID: Wallowa         general veg. pas          Johnson and Simon 1987
e WA, n ID              steppe hts                Daubenmire 1970a


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE: Wood of netleaf hackberry is light brown, heavy, and not easily worked [37,43]. It is used to make boxes, crates, barrels, furniture, cabinets, paneling, and miscellaneous items [23,55,65], and is used locally for fenceposts and firewood [37,72]. Early homesteaders crafted rough furniture from hackberry wood [44]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Netleaf hackberry is used extensively for food and cover by many birds and mammals [37]. Browse: On the Edwards Plateau of Texas, netleaf hackberry is a preferred white-tailed deer browse [3,15]. In parts of southern Texas, it is a major component of mule deer diets but is relatively unimportant to white-tailed deer [2]. It may be heavily utilized by deer during drought years [1] and in southern Texas receives most use during winter and spring [15]. Pronghorn commonly browse netleaf hackberry in the spring [11]. Beaver feed on hackberry wood in many areas [48]. Scrub jays commonly feed on leaf galls present on foliage of netleaf hackberry [34]. Cattle sometimes browse netleaf hackberry [59], although it is most often used on overgrazed sites where more preferred forage is unavailable [20]. Spanish goats often seek out tender young sprouts during the first year after fire [70]. Fruit: Fruit of netleaf hackberry is readily consumed by many birds [55,73]. It is considered the single most important winter bird food at the lower edge of the mountain brush zone along the Wasatch Front of northern Utah [34]. The band-tailed pigeon, Steller's jay, northern flicker, American robin, Townsend's solitaire, Bohemian waxwing, cedar waxwing, American crow, scrub jay, and rufous-sided towhee feed on this persistent berry [34,43]. It reportedly constitutes an emergency food source for avian seed eaters during January and February [62]. Many mammals, including squirrels, foxes, Barbary sheep, and coyotes, also eat netleaf hackberry fruit [43,76]. PALATABILITY: Leaves of netleaf hackberry become somewhat tough as they mature [74] and may decline in palatability to some species; however, white-tailed deer preference for this species tends to be highest in summer and fall [60,62]. In Texas, general palatability has been rated as follows [11]: Pronghorn excellent Cattle poor Domestic sheep poor Fruit of netleaf hackberry is highly palatable to many birds and mammals [48]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Netleaf hackberry browse in the Edwards Plateau of Texas has been rated as good in protein (14.35%), good in phosphoric acid (P2O5) (0.38%), and fair in lime (CaO) (6.27%) [26]. COVER VALUE: Netleaf hackberry provides good cover for a variety of big game species [39,43]. The dense cover of netleaf hackberry stands is favored by white-tailed deer in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas [49]. Southern plains woodrats use netleaf hackberry twigs to construct houses [66]. Netleaf hackberry provides nesting sites for the white-tailed raven, Swainson's hawk, scissor-tailed flycatcher, Bullock's oriole, and many doves, quail, and numerous desert songbirds [19,27,43]. Hackberries offer good hiding or resting cover for quail in many parts of the Southwest [27]. Netleaf hackberry provides much sought-after shade for domestic livestock in the Southwest and in the Snake River Drainage of Idaho [18,39]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Netleaf hackberry can be used to aid in soil stabilization on various types of disturbed sites [54,67]. It is well adapted to mountain-brush and pinyon-juniper communities [54]. Netleaf hackberry can be propagated from seed, which when cleaned, averages 4,870 per pound (10,727/kg) [8]. It can also be propagated vegetatively from stem cuttings [8]. Nursery or container stock can be transplanted onto disturbed sites with good results [54,64]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Netleaf hackberry is well suited for use in landscaping [38]. This small shade tree is tolerant of dry sites and can be planted in yards or patios [23,64], and along streets in urban areas [23]. The shade value of netleaf hackberry was also recognized by early Native American peoples, including the Basketmakers of the Southwest [44]. Because of its tendency to grow near flowing water, this tree provided the focus for habitations such as Hovenweep and Montezuma Castle [44]. The sweet, edible fruit [37,63] was traditionally an important food source for many Native American peoples [55,72]. Today, the fruit receives only limited human use [37]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Netleaf hackberry is susceptible to "witches broom" and various insect infestations [37,44,75]. Netleaf hackberry can be reduced by heavy grazing [59].


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Netleaf hackberry is a spreading, scraggly, often stunted tree or large shrub [44,55,63,75]. It commonly grows from 7 to 20 feet (2-6 m) in height but can reach up to 53 feet (16 m) in height and 24 inches (60 cm) in diameter on favorable sites [31,53]. Plants generally grow slowly [64] and live for 100 to 200 years [62]. The trunk is usually short and crooked [4,44] with thick, warty, reddish-brown to gray bark [37,44]. Slender twigs are reddish-brown, glabrous or puberulent [53], and often form a twisting network [4]. Plants are strongly taprooted but possess many shallow roots as well [62]. Roots are fibrous, wide spreading, and can reach maximum depths of 15 feet (5 m) or more [64,80]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Flowering and fruiting: Netleaf hackberry is monoecious [63]. Small, inconspicuous green flowers are borne singly in the leaf axils on current year's twigs [33,37,63]. The fruit is an orange to reddish, purplish, or black drupe that contains a single seed or nutlet [33]. The fruit is sweet with thin, dry pulp [4,76]. Seed: Netleaf hackberry produces an abundance of persistent seed nearly every year [8]. The hard, bony seeds are cream-colored and approximately 0.22 inch (5.5 mm) in diameter [4,63]. Seed is readily dispersed by a variety of birds and mammals [44]. Seed remains viable under laboratory conditions for at least several years [8]; seed longevity under natural conditions has not been documented. Germination: Seed dormancy can be broken by stratification for 120 days at 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) [8]. Germination is also enhanced by depulping the fruit prior to planting [8]. Germination has averaged 37 to 80 percent in laboratory tests [8,72]. Natural germination occurs in late winter and spring [80]. Seedling establishment: Seedlings are commonly observed on moist loamy drainageway soils, in the sand of ephemeral streambeds, and in saturated alluvium in waterways with sustained flows [22,80]. Establishment may be favored on high terraces in riparian zones where floods may disturb the channels themselves but leave terraces relatively undisturbed [5]. Vegetative regeneration: Netleaf hackberry sprouts from the root crown after aboveground portions of the plant are removed or damaged [14]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Netleaf hackberry commonly grows in bottomlands, washes, ravines, arroyos, rocky canyons, and along streamcourses, water tanks, and ponds [31,33,37,55,79]. Netleaf hackberry is particularly abundant in floodplain forests along large rivers of the Edwards Plateau of Texas [71,79] and is common in gallery forests along the major canyons of Snake, Salmon, and Columbia River valleys [18,50,68]. Netleaf hackberry also occurs as scattered individuals in desert shrubland and in semidesert grassland communities [9,28]. Scattered individuals often occur where upper desert grassland communities grade into low savannas [21]. In Texas, netleaf hackberry is particularly common on rolling plains and breaks, and as a component of hill and bluff timber [25,55,62]. Netleaf hackberry occurs in Great Basin montane scrubland, creosotebush scrub, and wash scrub communities, pinyon-juniper and Joshua tree woodlands, and mesquite bosques of the Southwest [10,13,30,52,53]. Plant associates: Common associates in Southwestern riparian woodland communities include walnut (Juglans spp.), willow (Salix spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Texas mulberry (Morus microphylla), western soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii), live oak (Quercus virginana), cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia), ash (Fraxinus spp.), Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana), and mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) [52,78,79]. Overstory codominants in terrace communities include live oak, little walnut (Juglans microcarpa), and pecan (Carya illinoensis) [79]. Other common Southwestern associates include Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma), Ashe juniper (J. ashei), live oak (Quercus fusiformis), black cherry (Prunus serotina), whitethorn acacia (Acacia constricta), fendlerbush (Fallugia paradoxa) [12,13,81]. Cheatgrass, white alder (Alnus rhombifolia), water birch (Betula occidentalis), black poplar (Populus trichocarpa), sand dropseed, bluebunch wheatgrass, and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) occur with netleaf hackberry in gallery forests of Idaho and Washington [18,50,68]. Soils: Netleaf hackberry grows on well-drained, dry to moist soils [64]. It occurs on gravelly or rocky soils, and also on sand and loam [22,31,72]. Netleaf hackberry grows on alkaline or acidic soils [54], but pH averages 7.0 to 7.5 [64]. Soils are commonly derived from limestone, or alluvial or colluvial parent materials [31,39,68]. Near the Gulf, plants occur on calcareous shell banks [73]. In many areas, netleaf hackberry develop best on alluvial soils [71]. Climate: Netleaf hackberry grows well in sun and is tolerant of drought [38,72]. It occurs in subhumid to semiarid areas characterized by mesothermal climatic regimes [71]. Average annual precipitation ranges from 15 to 33 inches (38-84 cm) in parts of Texas [71]; however, netleaf hackberry can grow where annual precipitation averages only 7 inches (18 cm) [4]. In some areas, summertime temperatures may exceed 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) [4]. Netleaf hackberry may be restricted by soil moisture levels [79]. Its distribution may also be largely limited by flood tolerance. Elevation: In many areas, netleaf hackberry is restricted to waterways and spans a considerable elevational range [32]. It grows at elevations ranging from 2,500 to 6,000 feet (762-1,829 m) in Arizona [41]; from 2,800 to 5,000 feet (853-1,524 m) in California [53]; and up to 6,000 feet (2,000 m) in Utah [37]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Netleaf hackberry can invade many types of newly disturbed sites but can also persist in a number of climax communities where soil-water regimes are favorable. Texas: On the Edwards Plateau, netleaf hackberry is among the large-seeded facultative riparian species that invade river terrace communities [5]. It also increases after prescribed burns in Ashe juniper communities on toeslopes where water availability is relatively high [57]. Although it commonly codominates these moister toeslopes with flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) and live oak (Quercus fusiformis), it is often absent on adjacent drier sites [57]. Idaho-eastern Washington: In the middle Snake and lower Salmon drainages of west-central Idaho and eastern Washington, netleaf hackberry occurs as an overstory dominant on lower valley slopes and alluvial terraces [18,68]. Many of these sites have been disturbed by domestic livestock. Current understory dominants on disturbed sites include annual bromes (cheatgrass, Japanese brome (B. japonicus), and poverty brome (B. sterilis), and sand dropseed, but evidence suggests that bluebunch wheatgrass grew as an understory dominant beneath netleaf hackberry prior to disturbance [68]. Daubenmire [18] identified a netleaf hackberry/cheatgrass habitat type, although Tisdale [68] maintained that "designation of a climax community type with an exotic annual as one of the dominants seems inappropriate, especially when stands of Celtis douglasii [reticulata]/ bluebunch wheatgrass can be found on similar habitats in Washington along the Grande Ronde River." Tallgrass prairie: Plowing in the tallgrass prairie disturbs the roots of grasses, reducing their competitive ability and allowing for the subsequent establishment of weeds and woody invaders. Woody plants such as netleaf hackberry tend to increase after annual cultivation in tallgrass prairies of central Oklahoma [16]. Grass cover typically increases immediately after plowing stops and peaks 5 years later. Sumac (Rhus spp.), indian-currant coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), and roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) soon become established, and netleaf hackberry and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) gradually invade the area. Although woody plants remain rare during the first 9 years, these invaders begin to increase dramatically as grassland vegetation loses dominance. Netleaf hackberry, indian-currant coralberry, flameleaf sumac (Rhus copallina), and weedy grasses such as johnson-grass (Sorghum halepense) dominate some 9- to 32-year-old stands. Collins and Adams [16] noted that succession can be both rapid and unpredictable in the tallgrass prairie, and "even at the physiognomic level, general successional trends may be difficult to quantify." SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Leaves of netleaf hackberry first appear in early April to late May [23] and mature in June [74]. Plants flower in spring, with or shortly after initial leaf development [23]. Fruit ripens in late summer or fall [64]. Fruit may persist through the winter [62], although some seed is dispersed during the fall and winter [8,72]. Generalized flowering and fruiting dates by geographic location are as follows: Location Flowering Fruit ripe Authority c Great Plains late April August-Sept. Stephens 1973 s CA April-May ---- Munz 1974 Great Plains April-Sept. ---- Great Plains Flora Association 1986


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Netleaf hackberry is often associated with riparian woodlands which burn infrequently. These narrow canyon or gallery forests contrast strikingly with adjacent desert shrublands or grasslands where netleaf hackberry occurs as scattered individuals. Recurrent fires in drier upland types may eliminate or reduce invading shrubs and trees [32]. Netleaf hackberry also persists in fire-prone toeslope communities of Texas [57]. It commonly sprouts from the stem base or root crown after fire [57,70] and becomes prominent in many postburn communities. Birds and mammals presumably transport some seed from adjacent unburned areas [44], and limited postfire seedling establishment is possible. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Netleaf hackberry is described as fairly tolerant of fire [3]. Portions of the root crown commonly survive after aboveground vegetation is consumed by fire [3,57,70]. Plants are rarely killed by fire [14]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Netleaf hackberry sprouts from the root crown after aboveground vegetation is consumed by fire [3,14]. In some instances, recovery may be relatively rapid and cover can increase dramatically. Netleaf hackberry can reportedly outcompete species such as agarito (Mahonia trifoliolata) in early postburn communities [59]. On the Edwards Plateau, netleaf hackberry readily sprouted and increased in canopy cover after prescribed fire and mechanical scarification [57]. After fire it codominated (18 percent cover) relatively moist toeslopes with flameleaf sumac (22 percent cover), and live oak (Quercus fusiformis) (20 percent cover). Very little netleaf hackberry was observed on unburned areas or on drier burned sites (< 1 percent) [57]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Prescribed fire: Bock and Bock [7] reported that prescribed fire is "difficult to manage and potentially very destructive" in established riparian woodlands of the Southwest. These relatively rare and fragile areas provide important food and cover for desert wildlife [61]. Because browse and cover are often limited in these areas, burning is not generally recommended [63]. Wildlife: Removal of shrub-dominated communities can adversely impact wildlife in many areas. Deer commonly avoid open areas, and if burning is planned in shrub communities, efforts should be made to burn in mosaics, leaving strips of cover [3,49]. In some instances, it may be advisable to leave drainages intact for deer use [49]. On the Edwards Plateau of Texas, burning at 7- to 10-year intervals is recommended if management aims include controlling shrubs while maintaining deer populations. Deer numbers can be reduced if burns are conducted at more frequent intervals [3]. Burning woody vegetation in some shrub-grassland communities can be detrimental to birds, especially if conducted during the breeding season [19].


SPECIES: Celtis laevigata var. reticulata
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