Zelkova serrata
Common Name: Japanese zelkova 
Type: Tree
Family: Ulmaceae
Native Range: Eastern Asia
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 50.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 50.00 to 80.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, medium wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Established trees tolerate some drought. Prefers rich, moist loams. Generally tolerant of urban conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Zelkova serrata, commonly called Japanese zelkova, is a medium to large deciduous tree, typically growing to 50-80’ tall with a spreading, generally upward-branching, vase-shaped crown. It is native to Japan, Taiwan and eastern China. It is noted for its graceful shape, clean foliage, attractive bark and resistance to Dutch elm disease. Zelkova has in fact been promoted in recent years as a substitute for American elm (Ulmus americana) because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease. Insignificant small green flowers appear in spring as the foliage emerges. Flowers give way to small, non-showy, ovate, wingless drupes that ripen in autumn. Oblong-elliptic medium green leaves (to 3” long) with coarse, ciliate marginal teeth and acuminate tips. Fall color is variable, ranging from undistinguished yellow to attractive shades of yellow-orange to red-brown. Smooth gray bark in youth exfoliates with age to reveal orange-brown inner bark. Zelkova is valued as a commercial timber tree in Japan.

Genus name may refer to the original Republic of Georgia name (Zelkova carpinifolia is native to the Caucasus).

Specific epithet and additional common name of sawleaf zelkova both refer to the serrated leaf margins.


No serious insect or disease problems. Highly resistant to Dutch elm disease. Phloem necrosis, wilts and cankers may occur. Insect visitors include leaf miner, beetles and scale. Spider mites can be a problem in hot, dry summers.


May be used as a lawn, shade or street tree.