Celtis

Cannabaceae

(Ulmaceae)

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
December 2007, May 2014

Celtis pallida
TX: Black Gap Wildlife Management Area
Oct 2007

Celtis reticulata
Kern Co., CA, just east of Caliente
CNPS Chpater, TNC Field Trip,
24 May 2013

 

Trees and Shrubs of Kern County (Jan 2013)

     Celtis. Deciduous shrubs or trees; leaves simple, alternate, spreading horizontally on branches, ± heart-shaped, notched to rounded at base, with 3 main veins arising from a common point at an asymmetrical base, wider on one side of the mid vein than other or unequally lobed near base (oblique), gradually tapering to a drawn out pointed apex, margins usually unequally serrated, pinnately veined with parallel cross veins; flowers inconspicuous, without petals, developing on new season shoots with or before leaves, males solitary near base of  shoots, mostly unisexual on the same plant, sepals 4–5, united near base; stamens 4–5; female flowers solitary or clustered in axils of newer leaves; gynoecium syncarpous, 2 carpellate with 2 divergent styles, unilocular; fruit a drupe. ~60 species, 1 native and 2 introduced in California.

     Celtis has been placed in Cannabaceae (APG III, JM2, or previously Celtidaceae (Judd et al. 2002), as a segregate family of Ulmaceae.  While there seems to be strong molecular phylogenetic support for placing Celtis in Cannabaceae (Sytsma et al. 2002), from a morphological view, the alternate leaves with pinnate venation, serrated margins and asymmetrical bases, and the 2-carpellate gynoecium with apical placentation, appear as  more practical character attributes for retaining the older classification of Celtis in the Ulmaceae (Sherman-Broyles, Barker & Schulz in FNA, 1997).  Nevertheless, it also appears that Celtis is more closely related to the herb Cannabis than to the woody genera of the former Ulmaceae or the more narrow circumscribed family Celtidaceae (Sytsma et al. 2002). One species in Kern County.

Celtis reticulata Torrey 1824. Net-leaf hackberry. Trees or shrubs to16 m with a rounded crown; bark with corky ridges; leaves 6–10 cm, margins nearly entire, toothed above middle but less so in Kern County plants,on petioles 3-8 mm; flowers Apr–May; drupe reddish or reddish black, spherical, 5-10 mm on pedicels 10-14 mm. Dry hills, often on limestone or basalt, ravine banks, rock outcrops, 300–2,300 m; widely distributed in western U.S.; Texas north to Kansas west to Washington and California and northern Mexico; in California dry slopes, intermittent watercourses, in gravelly soil; 1,600–5,500 ft.; southern Sierra Nevada to Peninsular Ranges and desert mountains.  Kern Co.: scattered colonies in Caliente Canyon, windswept ridge 5 miles southeast of Keene, Democrat Hot Springs (Twisselmann), Caliente Creek,Tweeder Creek, Oiler Canyon, 457–1,523 m (CCH). Used by The Navaho-Kayenta for treating indigestion  (Moerman).

Pharmacological References

Kim D. K., J. P. Lim, J. V. V. Kim, H. W. Park and J. S. Eun.  2005. Antitumor and antiinflammatory constituents from Celtis sinensis.  Arch. Pharm. Res. 28(1): 39–43. “Eight compounds were isolated from the methanolic extract of the twigs of Celtis sinensis through repeated silica gel and Sephadex LH-20 column chromatography. Their chemical structures were elucidated as two triterpenoids, germanicol and epifriedelanol, two amide compounds, trans-N-caffeoyltyramine and cis-N-coumaroyltyramine, two lignan glycoside, pinoresinol glycoside and pinoresinol rutinoside, and two steroids by spectroscopic analysis.”