Zelkova abelicea is found in open, mountain forest communities between ~800 and ~1,800 m above sea level in all mountain massifs of Crete in the Lefka Ori, Psiloritis, Kedros, Dikti and Thripti. It grows in association with Acer sempervirens, Quercus coccifera and occasionally Cupressus sempervirens. The species is rare in terms of abundance and distribution and only few large, regularly fruiting trees still remain in few places. Less than 45 populations of Z. abelicea are known, mainly in Lefka Ori (ca. 30) and in the Dikti Mountains (ca. 10). Two populations occur in the Psiloritis Mountains, one on Mount Kedros and one small population in the Thripti Mountains.
Z. abelicea natural populations