Real World Gardener Zelkova serrata is Plant of the Week

May 4th, 2014

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" />

Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


Zelkova serrata-Japanese Zelkova
Do you live in an area where deciduous trees give you great autumn colour?

Those turning leaves do give those brilliant, reds, yellows and oranges that make for a standout landscape that artists and photographers can’t resist.


Why not have a bit of this in your own backyard.

Zelkova serrata is native to Japan, Korea, eastern China and Taiwan.

Zelkova grows naturally in lowland forests with maple, beech and oak.

Japanese Zelkova is deciduous growing to 18 metres high with a 15 metre spread.
For showy autumn colour - the green leaves turn yellow, copper, orange, or deep red to purplish-red. 
Young trees have smooth grey bark and as the tree ages, the bark peels to reveal orange or pink patches.
Insignificant green flowers in Spring, followed by nut-like fruit or wingless drupes that ripen in Autumn.
Has some possibility as a substitute for the American (Ulmus americana) and English elm (Ulmus procera) because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease which has devastated the trees of the northern hemisphere.

Zelkova can grow quite a large trunk of up to one metre or more in diameter. It has a moderate growth rate and likes a sunny exposure. Tolerates heat and strong winds. Moderately drought tolerant, though intolerant of waterlogged soils.

Wood from Zelkova serrata is very fine grained and highly valued in Japan. Wood from all species of Zelkova is used in cabinet making and inlay work.

Several distinctive cultivars have been developed including Z. serrata ‘Green Vase.’ A good tree for Australian gardens because of its fire retardant properties.


TIP:Transplants easily.

Zelkova is a funny name, but it’s in the list of Australia’s top ten trees according to the sponsor of last year’s winner of the Chelsea Flower Show.

The won the overall best garden with their Australian Garden entry.

If you have the room, this tree is hardy and moderately fast growing. Why not give it a try?

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