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Reproduction of the European nettle tree

Reproduction of the European nettle tree

The European nettle tree, Mediterranean hackberry, lote tree, lodogno or honeyberry (Celtis australis L., 1753) is a plant belonging to the Ulmaceae family, native to southern Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor.

Suitable breeding habitat –
The European nettle tree is a plant native to the Mediterranean Basin, it is widespread from southern Spain to the Caucasus and western Asia.
It is present in southern Europe, Asia Minor and Northern Africa and has been introduced in other countries.
In Italy it is quite common up to 600-700 meters above sea level.
Its habitat is that of broad-leaved woods, even in stony and arid places, with calcareous soil. It is easily associated with elm, hornbeam, hazel, ash, ash, oak and maple.

Propagation –
Celtis australis is a tree that grows in various types of soil and also in stony soils, where the robust root system penetrates into the cracks in the rocks, favoring their crumbling: hence another vulgar name “stone breaker”.
It is a deciduous plant with a rounded crown that can reach a height of 15 – 20 meters.
This plant is able to tolerate quite cold temperatures when dormant, at least down to -15 ° C, but it needs hot summers to fully mature its wood.
It grows in any soil and, as mentioned, also in soils with a lot of skeleton.
It is a tree that provides excellent shade and is tolerant to urban pollution; it was often used as a street tree in southern Europe.
Trees can be very long-lived, spanning up to 1,000 years.
Propagation can occur by seed; this should be sown as soon as it is ripe in an unheated seedbed.
Preserved seed is best if it is subjected to 2 – 3 months of cold stratification and then sown in late winter / early spring in a greenhouse.
Germination rates are generally good, although stored seeds may take 12 months or more to germinate. The seed can be stored for up to 5 years.
Once sprouted, the young seedlings are placed in individual pots and then transplanted in late spring or early summer.

Ecology –
The European nettle tree is a heliophilous, xerophilous, pioneer species, typical of primitive and stony soils.
It is used in the forestry field for the recovery of rocky slopes, the establishment of rows, windbreak bands on poor soils and also in an urban environment.
The drupes of this plant are transported by birds who disseminate it in cracks in the rock where it can germinate and develop. In urban settings, the good germination of Celtis australis seeds can create some problems for the birth of seedlings inside ornamental hedges which are difficult to eliminate as they are very resistant to repeated pruning.
A yellow dye is obtained from the bark and a fatty oil is obtained from the seed.
Wood is very strong, flexible, durable and valuable, widely used by turners and has been used in the past in construction, furniture making, etc.

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