Zelkova, Japanese Zelkova serrata
Japanese Zelkova is a good street and shade tree that has an appealing vase-shaped form with a rounded crown. Green leaves turn yellow, copper, orange, or deep red to purplish-red in fall putting on a showy display. The peeling bark on older trees exposes orange patches which can be quite impressive. Grows 50'-80' high with a 50'-75' spread. Prefers moist, well drained soils and full sun. It is pH adaptable, and when established is tolerant of wind, drought, and air pollution.Pricing Information
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Hardiness Zones 5 - 8The Japanese Zelkova can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Type of treeOrnamental Trees, Shade Trees
Mature HeightThe Japanese Zelkova grows to be 50' - 80' feet in height.
Mature SpreadThe Japanese Zelkova has a spread of about 50' - 75' at full maturity.
SunThis zelkova does well in full sun.
The Japanese zelkova grows in acidic to slightly alkaline, moist to dry, compacted, wide range of soil textures.
ShapeThis zelkova has vase shape.
The Japanese zelkova is a handsome tree with showy fall color, attractive exfoliating bark, and a symmetrical, vase-shaped growth habit. It makes a good street tree because of its dense shade, ability to grow in marginal soils and resistance to pests and pollution.
Japanese Zelkova is a tough urban tree for residential shade and street plantings. It has a spreading, generally upright branching, vase-shaped habit. The crown is shorter and more rounded than the American elm. The bark is a smooth, reddish brown when young with prominent cherry-like lenticels. As the tree ages, the outer bark is gray-brown and often exfoliating exposing an orangish inner bark. Medium green leaves turn to shades of yellow, orange, brown, deep red to reddish-purple in fall. This tree will tolerate most soil types including those with a pH to about 7.5, but prefers deep, moist, well drained soils. It does well in full sun. Established trees are fairly drought and wind tolerant (if properly pruned). It is resistant to Dutch elm disease with good resistance to elm leaf beetle and Japanese beetle. Young trees are susceptible to frost so transplanting should be done in the spring. Pruning should be done in fall, and Japanese zelkova will require some pruning to develop a strong structure. The main branches should spaced along a single trunk, so they develop a secure hold on the trunk especially in urban areas. Branches should remain less than 1/2 the diameter of the trunk to maintain a strong form. Planting uses for zelkova include lawn, shade, and street tree, parking lot island, buffer strip, and bonsai.
Japanese zelkova is native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria. This tree is also called the "Keaki". The timber is high quality, durable and strong with a beautiful grain. It is used for furniture and in construction. It is a popular bonsai tree.
Japanese zelkova prefers moist, well drained soil but is very drought tolerant once established.
The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to oblong-ovate, 1 1/4"-2" long with serrated margins, dark green and slightly rough above. Fall colors are shades of yellow, orange, brown to deep red to reddish purple.
green, not showy
Spring with the leaves
Small, kidney bean-shaped drupe about 1/4" across ripening in the fall.
Rate of growth refers to the vertical increase in growth unless specified differently. Rate, as is true for size, is influenced by numerous variables such as soil, drainage, water, fertility, light, exposure, ad infinitum. The designation slow means the plant grows 12” or less per year; medium refers to 13 to 24” of growth per year; and fast to 25” or greater.Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, by Michael Dirr.