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Common Name:

Japanese Zelkova

Scientific Name:

Zelkova serrata

Family Name:



Japanese Zelkova is a medium size tree that may be a viable substitute for American Elm (Ulmus americana) if a vase shape is desired. The short stalky trunk has flaky exfoliating orange-brown bark that is ornamental. Information on the species' use in Texas is limited, but it appears to have potential.

Plant Habit or Use:

Medium tree, large tree



Flower Color:

Not ornamental

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:



50 ft to 60 ft, upright vase-shaped habit


40 ft to 50 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Non-Defined Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Non-Defined Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Non-Defined Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Non-Defined Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Non-Defined Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

6, 7, 8, 9

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Bark is remeniscent of that of Ulmus parvifolia, but is not as aesthetically effective; resistant to most pests and diseases of Ulmus spp.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.