[zel-kuh-vuh, zel-koh-]

Zelkova is a genus of six species of deciduous trees in the elm family Ulmaceae, native to southern Europe, and southwest and eastern Asia. They vary in size from shrubs (Z. sicula) to large trees up to 35 m tall (Z. carpinifolia). The leaves are alternate, with serrated margins, and (unlike the related elms) a symmetrical base to the leaf blade. The fruit is a dry, nut-like drupe, produced singly in the leaf axils.



The Sicilian Zelkova Z. sicula, only discovered in 1991, is listed as an endangered species. The only known population comprises a small number of low shrubs suffering from severe overgrazing; the natural mature size of undamaged specimens is unknown.

The genus Zelkova was common throughout northern Europe and North America as late as the Pliocene. However, extensive Pleistocene glaciation has confined the genus to its present range to the eastern Mediterranean islands and the Caucasus, and in eastern Asia where only local glaciation occurred.

Cultivation and uses

Zelkova serrata and Z. carpinifolia are grown as ornamental trees. The wood is hard, used for making furniture.


The name Zelkova derives from the native name of Z. carpinifolia in one or more of the languages of the Caucasus, as shown by the Georgian name, ძელქვა (dzelkva). ძელ dzel meaning "bar", and ქვა kva meaning "rock". The tree was often used for making rock-hard and durable bars for building.


Search another word or see zelkovaon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature