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Zelkova serrata

(Japanese Grey-Bark Elm)


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Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Chinese:

Ju Shu, 榉树, 櫸

Common Names in Danish:

Japansk Zelkova

Common Names in Dutch:

Japanse zelkova

Common Names in English:

Japanese Grey-Bark Elm, Japanese Zelkova, Keyaki, Saw-Leaf Zelkova, Water-Elm

Common Names in Finnish:


Common Names in German:

Japanische Zelkove

Common Names in Hungarian:

Japán gyertyánszil

Common Names in Japanese:

Kiaki, ケヤキ

Common Names in Korean:


Common Names in Lithuanian:

Japoninis skirpstulas

Common Names in Polish:

Brzostownica japońska

Common Names in Turkish:

Japon Zelkovası


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Genus Zelkova

Trees , deciduous. Branchlets never spinose , never corky or winged . Stipules 2, free , linear-lanceolate, caducous , leaving a short transverse scar on each side of leaf base . Leaves distichous, margin serrate to crenate; venation pinnate; secondary veins extending to margin, each ending in a tooth . Flowers appearing at same time as leaves, polygamous. Male flowers: clustered in proximal leaf axil of young branchlets. Perianth campanulate , 4-6(or 7) -lobed. Stamens equal in number to perianth lobes; filaments short, erect . Female and bisexual flowers: usually solitary or rarely 2-4-clustered in distal leaf axil of young branchlets. Perianth 4-6-parted, tepals imbricate. Staminodes absent or rarely developed. Ovary sessile; ovule pendulous, slightly amphitropous . Style excentric. Drupes oblique , dorsally keeled ; endocarp hard; perianth persistent; stigmas beak-shaped. Seed slightly compressed , apex concave ; endosperm absent; embryo curved ; cotyledons broad, apically slightly notched to 2-lobed. 2n = 28.

Five species: E and SW Asia, SE Europe; three species (two endemic) in China.[1]

Physical Description

Species Zelkova serrata

Trees , to 30 m tall, d.b.h. to 1 m, deciduous. Bark grayish white to grayish brown, exfoliating. Branchlets brownish purple to brown, pubescent or glabrescent . Winter buds conic-ovoid to ovoid . Stipules brownish purple, lanceolate, 7-9 mm. Petiole 2-6 mm, pubescent; leaf blade elliptic to ovate-lanceolate, 3-10 × 1.5-5 cm, papery to thickly papery, glabrous or abaxially sparsely pubescent along veins, adaxially sparsely hispid , base slightly oblique , rounded , or shallowly cordate, margin serrate to crenate, apex caudate-acuminate; secondary veins 9-15 on each side of midvein . Male flowers: shortly pedicellate , ca. 3 mm in diam. Perianth (5 or) 7(or 8) -parted to middle . Female flowers: subsessile , ca. 1.5 mm in diam. Perianth 4- or 5(or 6) -parted. Ovary pubescent. Drupes pea green, subsessile, 2.5-3.5 mm in diam., surface covered by an irregular network of low ridges . Fl. Apr, fr. Sep-Nov. 2n = 28. [source]

ID Features: Short main trunk and low branching. Vase-shaped habit. Slender twigs with small dark, conical buds in a zigzag pattern. Smooth bark with lenticels or exfoliating in patches to reveal orange. inner bark.

Habit: A medium-sized vase-shaped deciduous shrub with a rounded and broad crown when mature . Main branching starts low creating a short trunk .

Flowers: Not ornamental . Blooms in April. • Bloom Period: January, February. • Flower Color: green

Seeds: Fruit: A small drupe. Not ornamentally important.

Foliage: Summer foliage: Alternately arranged deciduous leaves. Simple leaves. Margins toothed . Elliptical shape . Acuminate leaf tip . 1.25" to 3" long. 0.75" to 1.5" wide. Dark green color. • Fall foliage: Fall color is variable. A mix or yellow, russet, bronze, dark red and purple. Can be quite showy on good specimens.


Size: 50' to 70' tall, 30' wide.


Landscape Uses: Lawn tree . Urban areas. Possibly a street tree. Parks and campuses. For attractive bark characteristics. For vase-shape. • Liabilities: Twig dieback due to lack of cold hardiness . Japanese beetle feeding on foliage . Shows fairly good resistance to Dutch Elm Disease and bacterial canker ,. but not immune. • Care: Resistant to Dutch Elm Disease .


Valleys, beside streams ; 500-2000 m. Anhui, Fujian, Gansu (Qin Ling), N Guangdong, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning (Dalian), Shaanxi (Qin Ling), Shandong, Sichuan, Taiwan, Zhejiang [Japan, Korea, Russia (Kuril Islands)]. [source]

Zone 5.

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 888 meters (0 to 2,913 feet).[2]


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Culture: Full sun . Prefers well-drained, moist, deep, fertile soil. Relatively tolerant of drought and pollution once established . Tolerant of a range of soils pHs. Easy to transplant and establish. Needs room to develop wide crown.

Soil: Minimum pH: 4.5 • Maximum pH: 7.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full or part sun.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b. (map)


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Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Zelkova

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 22 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

Z. carpinifolia (Caucasian Elm) · Z. schneideriana (Schneider Zelkova) · Z. serrata (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata var. Musasino (Japanese Zelkova) · Z. serrata 'Aurea' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Autumn Glow' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Goblin' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Goshiki' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Green Vase' (Green Vase Japanese Zelkova) · Z. serrata 'Green Veil' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Halka' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Illinois Hardy' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Low Weeper' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Musashino' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Nire' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Ogon' (Japanese Zelkova 'ogon') · Z. serrata 'Parkview' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Spring Grove' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Variegata' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Village Green' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. serrata 'Wireless' (Japanese Grey-Bark Elm) · Z. sinica (Chinese Zelkova)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 21, 2007:



  1. Liguo Fu, Yiqun Xin & Alan Whittemore "Zelkova". in Flora of China Vol. 5 Page 10. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Mean = 145.560 meters (477.559 feet), Standard Deviation = 215.600 based on 18 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06