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My front yard (in Northern New Mexico, zone 7a) is in desperate need of a shade tree. The soil is relatively poor and there's not a lot of water. I'm making a list of trees that I think would work in these conditions and one that's bubbled to the top is the Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). There are a ton of big ones in my neighborhood, so I know they grow well around here. And they provide good shade. I like they they grow fast, too.

I've seen sources conflict about their lifespan; some say 150-200 years, others say 20-30 years. Which is right? Is this a tree that could make sense for my situation?

FWIW, other "finalists" in my list of potentials are Velvet Mesquite and Desert Willow. But feel free to suggest others that could work.

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In climates that promote fast growth, the trees will have a shorter lifespan than in areas where the tree has to work to grow. In my area In your area, I'd expect it to be a good, longer lived tree (not 20-30 years). The other large specimens in the area are a good sign. I'd go ahead and plant one.

They are a good tree, the biggest downside in my area is the production of berries. They can leave a mess. If you are okay with that, I think you should plant it. Good choice.

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    I actually like the berries. I'm told they attract birds and are edible to humans if you crush them up. It's always nice to have plants that can feed me. :) – iLikeDirt Sep 29 '14 at 17:31
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    @iLikeDirt Good, expect to have some! – J. Musser Sep 29 '14 at 17:32

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