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Japanese Zelkova Zelkova serrata

Phonetic Spelling
ZEL-kov-uh sair-AY-tuh
Description

Japanese zelkova a tough and durable large decidous tree in the Ulmaceae (elm) family. It is a native of eastern Asia

 It is noted for its graceful vase shape when young, green textured foliage, and attractive honeycomb bark.   While the flowers are insignificant the fall leaf color is variable from yellow, burgundy, or a combination of colors.

The tree prefers full sun and has a medium water requirement. It is tolerant of drought once established and wind. Zelkova has been promoted in recent years as a substitute for American elm (Ulmus americana) because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease.

It serves as a good specimen lawn or shade tree and provides year-round interest with its unique bark. 

Seasons of Interest: 

Bark: Year-round     Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Fall        Fruit:  Summer

Quick ID:

  • vase-shaped tree when young, more open with age, and up to 50 to 80 feet tall and wide
  • leaves borne on inverted pins
  • leaves alternate and serrated
  • veins parallel, each ending in a tooth
  • teeth large, rounded, gland-tipped
  • fruit gall-looking, ovoid to triangular
  • honeycomb bark

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Leafrollers may be seen. Japanese zelkova is usually disease-free and is resistant to Dutch Elm disease and Elm leaf beetle.  In central North Carolina, this tree is showing stress in urban environments along streets and in parking lots.  This stress includes center of crown dieback and cracks in the bark.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Autumn Glow'
  • 'Fuiri Kevaki'
  • 'Green Vase'
    upright
  • 'Green Veil'
  • 'Halka'
  • 'Musashino'
  • 'Spring Grove'
  • 'Variegata'
  • 'Village Green'
  • 'Wireless'
'Autumn Glow' , 'Fuiri Kevaki' , 'Green Vase', 'Green Veil', 'Halka', 'Musashino', 'Spring Grove' , 'Variegata', 'Village Green', 'Wireless'
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#interesting bark#specimen#large tree#shade garden#fall interest#year-round interest#lawn tree#cpp#children's garden#playground plant#fantz#vase-shaped#deciduous tree#fall color yellow#fall color red#fall color#bark#full sun#urban conditions intolerant#tree#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Autumn Glow'
  • 'Fuiri Kevaki'
  • 'Green Vase'
    upright
  • 'Green Veil'
  • 'Halka'
  • 'Musashino'
  • 'Spring Grove'
  • 'Variegata'
  • 'Village Green'
  • 'Wireless'
'Autumn Glow' , 'Fuiri Kevaki' , 'Green Vase', 'Green Veil', 'Halka', 'Musashino', 'Spring Grove' , 'Variegata', 'Village Green', 'Wireless'
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#interesting bark#specimen#large tree#shade garden#fall interest#year-round interest#lawn tree#cpp#children's garden#playground plant#fantz#vase-shaped#deciduous tree#fall color yellow#fall color red#fall color#bark#full sun#urban conditions intolerant#tree#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Zelkova
    Species:
    serrata
    Family:
    Ulmaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan
    Play Value:
    Shade
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Dutch Elm, Bacterial Canker
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 50 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Open
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit is small, ovoid to renivoid, bearing two small beaks; in fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Not ornamentally interesting
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are simple, alternate, oblong-elliptic, acuminate, weakly oblique, rotund to weakly cordate, large crenate, acute teeth, lateral veins parallel, and each ending in a tooth. They have a beautiful texture, and the fall color varies from yellow, burgundy, or a combination of colors.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is smooth and grayish-white with a honeycomb texture.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases