A deciduous tree that has corky outgrowths on the bark. The leaves are alternate, simple, and lanceolate. The flowers are tiny, in small elongated clusters in the leaf axils. The fruit is a fleshy, rounded drupe, turning from orange to red on maturity.
Wildlife – The fruit is eaten by wildlife, especially birds (towhees, flickers, thrashers, and robins). The warty outgrowths are often aggravated by the work of yellow-bellied sapsuckers. This tree is the larval host of the tawny emperor, Asterocampa clyton, and the hackberry emperor, Asterocampa celtis, butterflies.
Historic Indian camps are readily identified by the presence of sugarberry. The Seminoles ate the fruits. People all across the southern United States used this plant for food or medicine.