Species At Risk

Dwarf Hackberry

(Celtis tenuifolia)


Dwarf Hackberry
Dwarf Hackberry occurrences map


Dwarf Hackberry is a small tree that usually grows one to four metres high, but can reach up to 10 metres. The bark is light grey and becomes ridged with age. The leaves are broadly oval at the base and taper to a point at the tip. The edge of the leaves can have few or many teeth. The round, orange fruits are sweet and sugary and are eaten by birds and mammals.


The species reaches the northern limits of its distribution in southern Ontario, over 1,000 kilometres north of the geographical centre of its range in the United States. In Canada, there are six known locations in southern Ontario: Port Franks area, Point Pelee, Pelee Island, Point Anne, and two sites near Belleville. The Canadian population is estimated to be more than 14,000 plants.


Dwarf Hackberry grows in several different habitats. These include dry, sandy areas near lakeshores, inland dunes, ridge tops and limestone alvars. Several plant communities in which Dwarf Hackberry occurs are considered rare to extremely rare, such as shrub and treed sand dunes, oak savannas, and red cedar-treed alvars. Dwarf Hackberry is a sun-loving tree that does best in areas where it will not be shaded-out by other trees and vegetation.


The main threats to Dwarf Hackberry are aggregate extraction, development, logging and altered disturbance regimes (e.g. fire frequency, coastal processes, wind, disease) that normally limit habitat succession by plants that will shade out this sun-loving species. They are also at risk from bark beetles, snails, deer, as well as invasive and allelopathic plants. Allelopathic plants release a substance into the environment that inhibits the germination or growth of other potential competitor plants of the same or another species.


Dwarf Hackberry receives protection under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help Dwarf Hackberry

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Dwarf Hackberry. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery. If you find Dwarf Hackberry on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Consult the Ministry of Natural Resources when working around forests for information on provincial regulations and best management practices to protect these important habitats. Call toll free 1-800-667-1940 or visit the Ministry website at http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/ContactUs/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_179002.html.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies ; www.invadingspecies.com ; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca .

Did you know?

Dwarf Hackberry’s scientific name tenuifolia means "with thin leaves" in Latin, but the leaves are actually quite stiff and leathery.

Did you know?

Many insects rely on the Dwarf Hackberry for survival. Several rare insects, including beetles that were only recently discovered in Canada, also depend on the Dwarf Hackberry for part of their life cycles.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.