I'm a fan of the leaves on our hackberry tree. Large, deep green with a contradicting texture. How can something be soft and rough at the same time? Much like a cats tongue.
It is naturalized the world over and is known by many names, including sugarberry, beaverwood, and nettletree. It is part of the hemp family (cannabaceae) and the bark has been used by the native people, throughout the Americas, medicinally for women's reproductive wellness, sore throats, and even some STDs.
The thin skinned berries are cumbersome to eat due to the large seed, but that doesnt stop gatherers from flavoring syrups and jellies or being crushed and eaten whole, as a well rounded trail snack. Full of fat, protein, carbs, and vitamins, hackberries also make an excellent animal feed, specifically poultry.
The berries are available all winter long and are a welcome sight to wildlife when food is scarce. They tend to grow on the upper branches so harvesting can be a pain. You can climb a sturdy ladder to gather or use a long stick to shake the berries loose and gather from the ground.
This semi-drought tolerant shade tree needs very little to be happy. In our climate, it spreads readily in areas with access to water. The first year I watered daily, now one good soak a week is all that is needed. Be sure to choose a spot with plenty of stretching space as they can get 30ft tall!
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