Hackberry Great Wild Survival Food
Hackberry Tree Identification:
The hackberry tree is a tree that grows to what is considered normal tree size. Top end size is smaller than most oaks but still it typically grows quite large. This is a tree not a bush. Its range is throughout the Eastern US. The most distinguishing identification feature is the bark. The bark is tight light colored bark with numerous warty masses all over.
The hackberry has simple, alternate, pointed, finely toothed leaves.
To be clear their are two species of hackberry. Celtis occidentalis and Celtis laevigata. They look almost identical and for our purposes will be considered the same plant. Differences are so small as to only be of concern to some biologist.
Now you aren't going to feed an army on hackberry/sugarberry but when you find them it would be ashame to pass them by because you think they are poisonous. Red berries are a scary thing to eat in the wild if you don't know the edibility of the fruit.
So yeah, it is the fruit of the hackberry that we are interested in for food. The tree produces a small berry. I think it might technically be a pome, but whatever. The fruit is green as it grows and turns red when it ripens.
The ripe fruit of hackberries are small and have thin sweet skin around a hard seed. This seed is rich in protein and fats, but is extremely hard so don't try to crush with your teeth. The non-seed portion can be eaten as is. But if enough are available then to eat them collect the berries and crush with a mortar and pestle until they are a paste.
This paste can be toasted into a bar or the paste can be blended with water and left over night and then strained to make a drink similiar to almond milk.
The berries ripen in the fall but can remain on the trees and edible well into spring. My experience is the squirrels or whatever will get them quickly if you don't.
Native Americans used the hackberry for medicinal purposes as well as for food. Medical Uses Of Hackberry