print Print

Japanese ZelkovaZelkova serrata

  • Japanese Zelkova - Zelkova serrata
  • Japanese Zelkova - Zelkova serrata

The 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.

As it is tolerant to drought and air pollution, this tree is a nice option for a variety of urban locations.


Hardiness Zones

The japanese zelkova can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–8. View Map

Tree Type

This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

Mature Size

The weeping willow grows to a height of 50–80' and a spread of around 50–75' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The Japanese zelkova grows in a wide range of soil textures, acidic to slightly alkaline, moist to dry. It tolerates drought (once established) and compacted soil.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Offers dense shade.
  • Develops a peeling bark in old age, exposing orange patches of inner bark.
  • Features ovate to oblong-ovate dark green leaves with serrated margins and a slightly rough texture that are 1 ¼ –2" long.
  • Provides fall color in shades of yellow, orange, brown, deep red and reddish-purple.
  • Yields small, kidney bean-shaped drupes that measure around ¼" in diameter and ripen in the fall.
  • Is a popular bonsai tree.
  • Tolerates wind, drought and air pollution.
  • Grows in a vase shape.
  • Turns into high-quality, durable, strong timber that is used for furniture and construction.
  • Should be transplanted in the spring, as young trees are susceptible to frost.

History/Lore

Native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria, the Japanese zelkova was introduced in America in 1862. This tree also goes by the common name Keaki.