Key identifying features.. Vase shape,
often mistaken for an American Elm.
Common name.. Japanese zelkova
Scientific name.. Zelkova serrata
Mature height.. 55 to 80 feet
Mature spread.. 50 to 75 feet
Form.. Vase, symmetrical canopy
Fruit.. Oval with a dry, hard covering,
less than a half-inch in length; does not attract birds or squirrels and poses no significant litter problem.
Flowers.. Spring flowers are inconspicuous.
Foliage.. Deciduous; leaves emerge light
green in spring, darkening somewhat through summer, turning bright yellow, orange, burgundy or copper in fall. Leaves are
simple, alternate, oblong and are less than 2 inches in length.
|Fall color of zelkovas in a row, Lake Avenue, Metuchen
Culture.. Full sun; tolerates drought.
Best time to prune.. Late fall through
late winter, but pruning can be done anytime to maintain strong branch structure. Branches should remain less than half the
diameter of the trunk for a strong, durable tree.
Of special note.. Zelkova trees make
good street trees for many reasons: the vase shape keeps the tree from drooping into the way of cars and pedestrians; it is
drought and salt tolerant; if planted 30-feet apart, the crowns of mature trees will create a beautiful shady street or sidewalk;
there is not a significant surface root problem, so these trees do not often lift sidewalks; it is relatively pest-free; and,
it grows well in restricted sidewalk pits.
|One year after planting
Julie's Comments.. (May
2006) Zelkova trees are from the elm family, and they do look similar, though zelkovas don't have problems with the dreaded
Dutch Elm Disease. I decided to follow the entire group planted here at Metuchen's new Borough Hall to document how well they
do here. In the process, I've discovered many other zelkova trees in town. I had never heard of this tree before they were
planted here. I remember the day I first noticed them up at the new municipal building: I immediately took close up leaf pictures,
bark pictures, full tree pictures to document the shape, then ran home and began to research what kind of tree it was. I was
so proud of myself that I had an answer within a few hours! The next day, the local newspaper came out with a story about
the trees quoting the landscaper who had planted them, confirming my tree identification. I HAVE learned a thing or two about
trees since I started this diary in 1996!
|All 14 trees survived their first winter!
Planting date.. July 2004.
Fourteen trees planted at Metuchen's Borough Hall. As of May 2006, all fourteen were still alive and thriving. At planting
time the trees averaged about 15 feet tall and had roughly 2-inch diameter trunks. I'll be measuring in the summer for a size
update, so be sure to bookmark the page if you want to keep track of these trees with me! (You can also subscribe to my blog,
because when I update a tree's size, I'll post it to there. I am amazed at how many subscribers the blog has now. I never
knew so many people were as interested in trees as I am!)
DO OVER?.. Yes.