Zelkova serrata

Japanese zelkova

  • © J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

Outstanding Qualities

Zelkova serrata has a distinctive, broad, vase shape that is attractive and unlike most other trees. While young it is rapid growing, quickly creating a wonderful scaffold of branches and a great winter silhouette. It has medium-sized, dark green leaves that turn soft yellow, orange and russet in autumn, depending on weather. Mature trees develop interesting, flaking bark with patches of gray, tan and reddish-brown. This is a fine tree for the urban landscape as it has a high tolerance for wind, pollution, and drought.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: vase-shaped tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 25 ft. 0 in. (7.62 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 15 ft. 0 in. (4.57 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 50 ft. 0 in. (15.24 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 40 ft. 0 in. (12.19 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun

Water Requirements: occasional watering to drought tolerant

Seasonal Interest: colorful autumn foliage

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: variegated, burgundy, bronze

Great Color Partners: dark green, blue, chartreuse

Culture Notes
Japanese zelkova will grow best in moist to well-drained soil, but it will tolerate sandy sites and clay if the drainage is adequate. Plant it in a location with full sun to light or open shade. Once established it is drought tolerant, but appreciates occasional watering during dry weather. Little pruning is needed other than removing dead, broken or poorly formed limbs.
Geek Notes
Zelkova serrata is native to Japan, Korea, eastern China, & Taiwan