Celtis are members of the ULMACEAE family. There are over 150 species about six being indigenous to South Africa. As a bonsai grower I have had dealings with three varieties - Celtis africana, C.australis and C.sinensis.
- Celtis Africana - Camdeboo stinkwood, African elm, or white stinkwood, is found from the Cape Peninsula to Ethiopia and grows under a great varriety of conditions, from forests and river banks to bare koppies. The tree can reach a height of 30m in nature, is deciduous or evergreen, withstands drought and frost; is a moderately fast grower and has smooth grey bark. The leaves are simple, alternate ovate to elliptical, serrated towards the apex. They can be smooth or furry, are beautifully soft green in spring, dark green in summer and yellow in autumn. Flowers are insignificant, fruit yellow. Celtis africana is not valued for its timber but ideal for shade and for ornamental trees in streets parks and gardens.
- Celtis Australis - Nettle tree, is found in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Himalayan regions. It is shorter, slower growing and with larger leaves than the C.africana. The fruit is black.
- Celtis Sinensis - Chinese hackberry or Chinese nettle, is found in China, Taiwan and Japan. It is faster growing than C.australis, the leaves wider and darker, the fruit orange and it can be used for fodder.