Phylogeography of representative plant species of the Mediterranean flora


Celtis australis L.

Mediterranean Hackberry







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Description: A broadleaved, caducifolious tree up to 20-25 m. tall, with smooth grey bark. Leaves entire, ovate-lanceolate, acute, shortly haired, bearing toothed edges. Flowers hermaphrodite, green and few conspicuous. Fruit a small berry -ca. 1 cm-, brown to black and sweet when ripe, holding a unique seed. It has been cultivated from ancient times to obtain its timber and flexible branches, used to make pitchforks, hoes and other agrarian tools.  Diploid, 2n=20, 40.



Left Trunk of a cultivated tree Valencia (Spain) 07.2007, © E. Laguna;  Right: Leaves. Pedreguer, Alicante (Spain) 03.2000, © E. Laguna



Distribution: Almost the Mediterranean-climate area, but not forming a continuous area and becoming more abundant in the Northern basin. Its true origin is unknown, and maybe was introduced from Eastern regions (Minor Asia, Caucasus, Himalayan area) in pre-Roman or Roman Age; however some recent paleobotanical findings suggests that this species should be considered as native for the Iberian peninsule.


Distribution map of Celtis australis*

*From BOLŇS, O. & J. VIGO (1984-2001), reproduced with the editor's permission.


Habitat:  Deep rocky ravines and riverine areas, often near to sites where it was cultivated in the past. This species uses to form small groups, acting as dominant or co-dominant species (with Ulmus minor, Populus alba, etc.). Sometimes can be found as a rock-dwelling plant, forming part of the rupicolous vegetation near the rivers.


Variability: Few variable in size and aspect.


Flower of C. australis.  Catarroja, Valencia (Spain), 03.2008 © E. Laguna


FILMED's selected populations: Algeria (1), Cyprus (2), France (5), Greece (3), Italy (4), Morocco (1),

Spain (23), Turkey (2).



-BOLŇS, O. & J. VIGO (1984-2001). Flora dels Paďsos Catalans. 4 vols. Ed. Barcino. Barcelona.

-BURNIE, D. 1995. Wild flowers of the Mediterranean. 320 pp. Dorling Kindersley. London.

-CASTROVIEJO, S., coord. gral. (1986-2008): Flora Iberica. 14 vols. Real Jardín Botánico-CSIC. Madrid.

-DAVIES, P. & B. GIBBONS. 1993. Field guide to the Wild Flowers of Southern Europe. 320 pp. Crowood Press. Marlborough.

-POLUNIN, O. & A. HUXLEY. 1990. Flowers of the Mediterranean. 2nd ed. 272 pp. Chatto & Windus. London.

POLUNIN, O. & B.E. SMITHIES. 1997. Flowers of South-West Europe. 480 pp. Oxford University Press. Oxford.

-SCHÖNFELDER, I. & 9. SCHÖNFELDER. 1984. Collins photoguide to the wildflowers of the Mediterranean. Collins. London.

-TUTIN, T.G., V.H. HEYWOOD, N.A. BURGES, D.H. VALENTINE, S.M. WALTERS & D.A. WEBB. 1964-1980. Flora Europaea. 5 vols. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

-VEDEL, H. 1978. Trees and shrubs of the Mediterranean. Penguin. London.


Leaves and fruit of Celtis australis. Catarroja, Valencia (Spain) 11..2007 and 10.2008, © E. Laguna


Recommended webpages:

-Virtual Herbarium of the Western Mediterranean:

-Flora Iberica:


-Mediterranean Wildflowers (pictures):

-Spanish Wildflowers (pictures):





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