What is Zelkova?

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  • Written By: Jacob Cherian
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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Zelkova is a classification of deciduous trees. There are six species within this genus which is a part of the elm family, Ulmaceae. These trees are mostly found in southern Europe and eastern Asia and come in a range of sizes, with some of the largest being some 35 meters (about 115 feet) tall.

There are many different types of Zelkova trees, one of which is the Zelkova Serrata, which is sometimes referred to as Japanese Zelkova. It was first identified as a replacement for elm trees which were dying off in the U.S. The tree is unique in the sense that it has earned a name for being a versatile, and attractive tree. In comparison to the American elm, the Zelkova is resistant to Dutch elm disease.

The nice thing about Zelkova trees is that they are generally moderate in size, making them a great choice for residential yards. Additionally, they are also well suited as street trees because they have a vase-like look with branches turning outward beyond a short trunk.

Zelkova are also known to grow very quickly and can double in height in about 5 years. In the first ten years, they can reach up to 30 feet (about 9 meters). These trees are great for suburban and coastal areas. If they are well taken care of, they are known to thrive.


The leaves of Zelkova trees are bright green, ovular and very similar to an elm leaf. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow, orange, red, or brown.

When buying a Zelkova, you need to be keep an eye out for detail. Trees with branches that are bunched up together on the trunk at a single point should be avoided. Although it is hard to find, insist on buying Zelkova trees that have branches that are more spread out. If they are spaced out along the trunk, they can develop a strong hold on the trunk.

Some of the special features of the Zelkova include its wide canopy, great for providing shade and being the focal point for a landscape. This vase-shaped tree has several ornamental features like an ornamental bark, clean summer foliage, fall color, and fine-textured twigs. The Zelkova is propagated by seeds, grafting, and rooted stem cuttings.


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