One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A deciduous tree, Zelkova serrata (family Ulmaceae), native to Japan and other parts of eastern Asia, commonly planted as a shade tree and formerly for timber.
Mid 19th century. From Japanese keyaki, (regional) kiyaki, kiyake from a first element of uncertain origin, perhaps keya conspicuous, different (on account of the unusual grain of its wood; from ke other, strange) + -ki tree.
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