Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)
Sometimes called Japanese Hornbeam, the Japanese Zelkova was first recognized as a good substitute for the dying American elm on eastern streets and campuses. It has earned a reputation of its own as a versatile, attractive tree. While related to the elm the Zelkova is highly resistant to the Dutch elm disease.

Basic Information
SpeciesSizeBasic Requirements
Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)At 20 years height is 20’ and the spread is 15’. Mature height is 60 to 70’ with a spread of 50 to 55’. Growth rate is medium at 8 to 12 inches per year.Zones 5 through 8, full sun and is happy in most kinds of soils except sand.

Their moderate size suits them to residential yards and their vase-like profile of upright branches fanning out above a short trunk qualifies them to be street trees as well. Furthermore, they grow rapidly, doubling their height in 4 to 6 years, to provide welcome shade (it will grow 30 feet in the first ten years). Since their flowers and fruits are inconspicuous, their dark green foliage that turns reddish-purple in the fall and their interesting patchy mature bark are the closest they get to ornamental. Zelkovas do fine in suburban and coastal environments, where, properly sited and cared for, they thrive.

The foliage is bright green, toothed oval, the leaf resembles an elm leaf, is dark green in the spring and summer turning to colors ranging from yellow to orange, dark red or to reddish brown, or even bright bronze red in fall.

You need to be vigilant when purchasing this tree. The branches on Zelkova are often clumped together on the trunk at one point. This is not desirable and should be avoided. Purchase trees with branches spaced along the trunk so they can develop a secure hold onto the trunk. These may be hard to find, but you are wise to insist on it.

Zelkova Choices
Green Vase features rapid growth and good form and fall color. From Korean seeds, it seems to be hardier than the Japanese Zelkova. Zone 5 - 8 Holds up well to airborne pollution and drought, and adapts well to clay soil. It won the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Gold Medal (Styer) award in 1988. Village Green produces a good vase-shaped form and is highly disease resistant. has rusty red fall foliage color and a broader crown. It is resistant to Japanese beetles. Halka is faster growing and more elm-like than other varieties

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