Local Color: Zelkova Serrata

Remarkable Trees of BHBy Sarah Lord

As we face forward to winter, memories of an unusually late fall remain.

In the drought, ginkgo trees dropped green leaves—and also golden ones after overdue rain. 

Japanese maples were hot as chili peppers and red maples glowed like neon. 

A single zelkova could put you in mind of a whole box of Jujyfruits.

Zelkova serrata entered our lives following the demise of the glorious American elm, Ulmus americana. Dutch elm disease ineluctably destroyed Baltimore’s most stately shade tree, planted in the early 1900s and admired for its elegant vase shape.

To replace it landscapers picked a southern European cousin in the elm family Ulmaceae, native also to Japan, Korea and eastern China. Its vase shape is a bit cluttered in comparison to Ulmus Americana, and the tree does not match its counterpart in grace. Nonetheless, zelkovas line Mt. Royal Avenue quite handsomely and their exfoliating trunks are visually interesting in wintertime.