14 February 2011

Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)

Japanese Gray-Bark Elm
Zelkova serrata
Japanese zelkova
sawtooth zelkova
sawleaf zelkova

Zelkova (zell-KOE-vuh)
serrata (sair-AY-tuh)
榉树 ju shu Keyaki

Family: Ulmaceae (elm Family)

Japanese zelkova is a favorite subject for bonsai and should be grown outdoors year round. They are known for their exfoliating gray and orange bark, small leaves, and handsome fall color.


A Japanese Zelkova
(Zelkova serrata) bonsai on display

at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum
at the United States National Arboretum.
According to the tree's display placard,
it has been in training since 1895.
It was donated by Yoshibumi Itoigawa.

Zelkova serrata (Japanese grey-bark elm) are related and quite similar to Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese elm). The zelkova is deciduous; the Chinese elm is semi-tropical. Zelkovas are often misidentified to get around import restrictions. They can be distinguished by their unwinged fruits and their leaves which are symmetrical rather than uneven at their bases.

The "Noma Keyaki" is a
1,000-year old Zelkova tree,
25 m tall, and 11.95 m
trunk circumference.

The Japanese zelkova is an important timber tree. The close-grained wood is used in fine furniture. Japanese zelkova makes a good shade tree and is tolerant of heat, drought, wind, and urban conditions.

Haeinsa Temple “Reflection on a calm sea"
Janggyeong Panjeon

Along the shaded path to Haeinsa Temple,
one passes the stump of a zelkova tree
planted in the ninth century.

 In the third year of King Ae-jang, the 40th king of the Shilla Dynasty (802AD) when Queen Ae-jang’s incurable illness was completely cured by the prayers of both monks, Sun-eung and Li-jong, King Ae-jang contributed lots of temples, sermon halls, and hermitages and thereby established Haeinsa in return for the favour. And in commemoration of this, the Gosamok is said to have been planted. The zelkova tree has grown along with Haeinsa over a period of some 1,200 years to wither and die in 1945, and now only the base of the trunk remains,showing the long history of Haeinsa.

only the base of the trunk remains

Haeinsa (해인사) temple is one of the most beautiful in Korea, due to its location deep in Gayasan National Park. The temple is famous for housing the Tripitaka Koreana – 80,000 wooden printing blocks carved during the Goryo Dynasty (AD 918-1392), which, together, make up the oldest and best-preserved collection of Buddhist scriptures in the world.

 My Pictures of Haeinsa

Global Treasures HAEINSA - South Korea  Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin Classics) The Nightmares on Elm Street: A Novel (Contains "Part 4: The Dream Master" and "Part 5: The Dream Child")


  1. Hello,

    Do you know if the Zelkova at Haeinsa a Zelkova serrata? Where did you get this info? Any idea how I can find out?

    Thank you,

  2. I got this info when I visited Haeinsa. There was nothing about species on the signs. I would think that it would have been the native serrata.



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