Characteristics of Chinese Hackberry Tree (Celtis sinensis) in the Wild

Celtis sinensis
Chinese hackberry or Phusu is a species of flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, which originates from the slopes of mountains in the sub-tropical regions of China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan at an altitude of 100-1,500 meters above sea level.

The Chinese hackberry can grow as a medium-sized tree as high as 20 meters, with deciduous leaves and grayish bark. The flowers appear from March to April and bear fruit from September to October. The fruits are round, 5-7 mm in diameter.

This tree is often grown as an ornamental tree, bonsai, and classic East Asian garden designs.

It is a non-invasive species naturalized in North America. However, the Chinese hackberry tree is declared a noxious weed in eastern Australia.

Chinese hackberry trees do well in a deep soil and full sun or a little shade. It has fast growth and strong roots, which makes it suitable for a windbreak tree in the yard on the coast of the sea or mountains.

This tree is also resistant to pollution, cold weather, salt soils, and grows well on the coast.

Three species of Chinese hackberry tree that have been identified are:

  • Celtis sinensis ‘magnifica’ has inverted oval or long oval leaves.
  • Celtis sinensis ‘purascens’ has young, purplish leaves.
  • Celtis sinensis ‘rotundata’ has round leaves with tapering tips.

The Chinese hackberry tree has a long life and is an excellent air neutralizer. It has also been used for centuries as a complement to landscapes, ornamental trees, and roadside shade trees.


Characteristics of Chinese Hackberry Leaf

Celtis sinensis Leaf
Source :

The leaves change color in fall, are ovate, and have a tapered tip. The tops of the leaves are rough, the side ribs are 3-4 pairs, and there are many serrations on the edges of the leaves. The petiole is 2-12 mm long.


Characteristics of Chinese Hackberry Flower

Celtis sinensis Flower
Source :

The Chinese hackberry flower is light yellow and without petals.


Characteristics of Chinese Hackberry Fruit

Celtis sinensis Fruit
Source : Lee

The fruit has a nucleus the size of a pea with a diameter of 7-8 mm. When the fruit is young it is green and turns yellow or red when ripe. The length of the fruit stalk is between 6-15 mm and has fine hair.


Characteristics of Chinese Hackberry Tree

Celtis sinensis Tree
Source : PHOTOS

The Chinese hackberry tree grows as a medium-sized tree with an average height of 20-25 meters in the wild. It is often found growing on the slopes of mountains or hills.


The Chinese hackberry sprouts that are grown in spring are often picked and processed as a spice.

The twigs are used as drugs that help blood circulation and control back pain, arthritis, eczema, and ulcers.

The herbal name for Chinese hackberry twigs and bark in Chinese medicine is Park Yu-ji or Park Soo-pi, and the herbal name for the leaves is Park Soo-leaf. It is effective in treating pain and ulcers because it contains scatole and indole.

Chinese hackberry bark and leaves are also used in traditional Korean medicine to control menstruation and to treat lung abscesses.

At the shrine, Chinese hackberry leaves are used together with the leaves of the Maple (Acer) tree as the main ingredient for making nectar tea.

It is wood and difficult to break, making it the wood used in making musical instruments and furniture. When painted or stained, the pattern of Chinese hackberry wood is almost the same as Elm (Ulmus) wood.


Chinese hackberry tree propagation generally uses seedling methods, but it can also be propagated by stem cuttings and grafts.

For propagation by seeding, the seeds harvested in the fall are mixed with sand and soil and stored. Sowing time is the following spring.

Cultivators or plant traders prefer grafting methods to propagate Chinese hackberry trees because the chances of survival are greater and do not require much time.


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