Zelkova serrata

Common name: Japanese Zelkova Family: Ulmaceae
Author: (Thunb.)Makino. Botanical references: 11, 200, 266
Synonyms: Zelkova keaki ((Siebold.)Maxim.), Zelkova hirta ((Thunb.)Schneid.), Zelkova formosana (Hayata.), Zelkova acuminata ((Lindl.)Planch.), Corchorus hirtus (non L.), Abelicea hirta ((Thunb.)Schneid.)
Known Hazards: None known
Range: E. Asia – E. China, Japan.
Habitat: Lowlands and mountains of C. and S. Japan58. Valleys, beside streams at elevations of 500 – 2000 metres in China266.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 1 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 0
Other Possible Synonyms: From various places across the web, may not be correct. See below.
Corchorus hirtus var. glabellusB Corchorus hirtus var. orinocensisB Corchorus orinocensisB,G Corchorus pilolobusG Corchorus serratusG
Other Common Names: From various places around the Web, may not be correct. See below.
Japanese Zelkova B,H,DEN1,P, Orinoco Jute B,P,
Epithets: From a Dictionary of Botanical Epithets
serra = toothed; serrata = saw toothed;
Systematics: From a UDSA Plants Database
Order: Urticales. Elm family

Physical Characteristics

A decidious tree growing to 25m by 10m at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 5 and is frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant). We rate it 1/5 for edibility and 0/5 for medicinal use.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Habitats and Possible Locations

Woodland, Canopy.

Edible Uses


Young leaves – cooked

105, 171.

Medicinal Uses

None known

Other Uses


Wood – tough, hard, beautifully grained. Used for tool handles, construction, furniture etc

46, 61, 151.

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost any good soil, acid or alkaline, preferring a deep well-drained moist loam11, 200. Prefers a moderately sheltered position11. Relatively shade tolerant200. A fast growing tree200. Dormant plants are very cold-tolerant, but they are sometimes damaged by late spring frosts when they are young11. Plants are susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease, but the beetle that is the vector of this disease rarely feeds on Zelkova so infestation is rare11, 200. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus200.


Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed requires stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible78, 200. Germination rates are variable78. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.