The Mediterranean hackberry is known by the ancient Mediterranean cultures that can live 600 years and reach 30 metres high. The generic name celtis refers to the spindle of the engraver, probably because it used its compact and flexible wood to make these tools, together with handles and canes. Celtis is also the name with which the ancient Romans referred to a kind of lotus, later naming this tree like that because its fruits are similar to those of the lotus. The classic text of the Odyssey narrates that during his long journey back home after the Trojan War, the ships of Odysseus and his men were diverted by the wind, and hence had many adventures before returning to their homeland, Ithaca. On one occasion they came to the land of the lotus eaters. Some scholars think that it could be the fruit of the Mediterranean hackberry.
The common name seems to come from the Arabic al-mais. The agronomist from Almería Ibn Luyun (1282-1349) recommends in his treatise on agriculture its use in gardens: among fruit trees, besides the vineyard, there must be Mediterranean hackberries and similar trees, because their woods are useful. The Kitab al-Filaha ('Book of Agriculture') of Ibn Luyun, along with the writings of Ibn al-'Awwam, key to understanding the high development of gardening as art reached in al-Andalus. Ibn Luyun wrote his treatise in verse so it could easily be memorized. Half scientists, half poets, authors such as Ibn Luyun show that the garden for the al-Andalus culture was worthy to be praised for both its botanical and aesthetic motifs.