Botanical Name: Zelkova serrata
Common Name: Japanese Zelkova
Notable Feature: Strong, vase-shaped growth habit with many fine-textured, zigzag twigs. Rapid growth rate in youth and ornamental bark with age.
Habit: A low-branched, vase-shaped, deciduous tree and in old age maintaining a similar form with many ascending branches. Grows 50 to 80 feet high and not quite as wide.
Flower: Monoecious: male flower – yellow-green and clustered in the axils of the lower leaves; female flower – yellow-green, clustered in the axils of the upper leaves. The non-showy flowers open in April as the foliage emerges.
Fruit: A small, triangular drupe, 1/6” long, green and later turning brown, maturing in mid to late summer.
Foliage: Alternate, simple, ovate with pointed tips and 1 ½ to 2 ½” long. The serrated leaves are dark green above and much paler below, turning a yellow-orange-brown in fall, to an occasional deep red to reddish purple.
Interesting Fact: Zelkova is often listed as a replacement for the American elm since it is highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and has roughly the same vase-shaped habit and ultimate size. But no tree will truly match the grace and elegance of the American elm.