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You probably don’t know Sugarberry, but your neighborhood birds do! This Elm relative (it does not get Dutch Elm disease) flies under most people’s radar, but it does not go unnoticed by birds. In early fall, its sweet and nutritious, reddish-brown fruits are feasted upon by robins, mockingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, orioles, and cardinals. In rural areas, turkeys, Ruffed Grouse, quail, ducks, and pheasants will partake. (Were it not for the large, rock-hard seeds, people would like the date-flavored fruits, too!) To top it all off, Sugarberry’s twiggy branches make choice nesting sites for robins and other tree-dwellers.
May Benefit & Attract: Thrushes, mockingbirds, waxwings, orioles, cardinals, turkeys, grouse, quail, ducks, and pheasants.
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (2-3' tall) container grown
Size A (5-6' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 6-9
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Recommended by Our Growers
Sugarberry is a sister to the Common Hackberry, another tough, native shade tree that nourishes wildlife. The two trees are similar in many respects, though Sugarberry usually has a smoother bark (at times Beech-like), and a more southernly distribution (it is native throughout the Southeast). Both are first-class butterfly trees in addition to being stellar bird trees. They attract Hackberry butterflies, Tawny Emperors, Mourning Cloaks, Question Marks, and American Snouts. Some of these lovelies will end up in the bellies of birds. Others will go on to live out their lives in your garden.
Sugarberry should be called the “Butterfly Tree” for the wealth of butterflies it supports. Perhaps the most charming is the Hackberry butterfly. This endearing little creature loves people (actually, it likes to sip the salts from our skin). You may feel a tickle while you’re working in the garden and find a Hackberry butterfly has landed on you!
How to Grow
Sugarberry will grow fastest in full sun or light shade, in soil that is rich ad moist. However, it will put up with poor growing conditions without complaint. Water it well during the first couple years of establishment, and it should be able to fend for itself after that. Once established, Sugarberry tolerates clay soil, rocky soil, pollution, high winds, salt spray, extreme heat, and winter lows to -20ºF. One thing you’ll want to be careful about, however, is not wounding the bark with equipment. Sugarberry bark is thin and vulnerable to damage, especially in its youth.
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