Syringa is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

 woody plant
Woody plant
A woody plant is a plant that uses wood as its structural tissue. These are typically perennial plants whose stems and larger roots are reinforced with wood produced adjacent to the vascular tissues. The main stem, larger branches, and roots of these plants are usually covered by a layer of...

s in the olive family (Oleaceae
Oleaceae are a family containing 24 extant genera and around 600 species of mesophytic shrubs, trees and occasionally vines. As shrubs, members of this family may be twine climbers, or scramblers.-Leaves:...

), native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 to eastern Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and widely and commonly cultivated in temperate areas elsewhere.

They are deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s or small tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s, ranging in size from 2 to 10 m (6.6 to 32.8 ) tall, with stems up to 20 to 30 cm (7.9 to 11.8 ) diameter. The leaves
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 are opposite (occasionally in whorls of three) in arrangement
In botany, phyllotaxis or phyllotaxy is the arrangement of leaves on a plant stem .- Pattern structure :...

, and their shape
Leaf shape
In botany, leaf shape is characterised with the following terms :* Acicular : Slender and pointed, needle-like* Acuminate : Tapering to a long point...

 is simple and heart-shaped to broad lanceolate in most species, but pinnate
Pinnate is a term used to describe feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis in plant or animal structures, and comes from the Latin word pinna meaning "feather", "wing", or "fin". A similar term is pectinate, which refers to a comb-like arrangement of parts...

 in a few species (e.g. S. protolaciniata, S. pinnatifolia). The flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s are produced in spring, each flower being 5 to 10 mm (0.196850393700787 to 0.393700787401575 ) in diameter with a four-lobed corolla, the corolla tube narrow, 5 to 20 mm (0.196850393700787 to 0.78740157480315 ) long; they are bisexual
Plant sexuality
Plant sexuality covers the wide variety of sexual reproduction systems found across the plant kingdom. This article describes morphological aspects of sexual reproduction of plants....

, with fertile stamen
The stamen is the pollen producing reproductive organ of a flower...

s and stigma
Gynoecium is most commonly used as a collective term for all carpels in a flower. A carpel is the ovule and seed producing reproductive organ in flowering plants. Carpels are derived from ovule-bearing leaves which evolved to form a closed structure containing the ovules...

 in each flower. The usual flower colour is a shade of purple (often a light purple or lilac
Lilac (color)
Lilac is a color that is a pale tone of violet that is a representation of the average color of most lilac flowers. It might also be described as light purple. The colors of some lilac flowers may be equivalent to the colors shown below as pale lilac, rich lilac, or deep lilac...

), but white, pale yellow and pink, and even a dark burgundy color are also found. The flowers grow in large panicle
A panicle is a compound raceme, a loose, much-branched indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers attached along the secondary branches; in other words, a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes....

s, and in several species have a strong fragrance. Flowering varies between mid spring to early summer, depending on the species. The fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 is a dry, brown capsule
Capsule (fruit)
In botany a capsule is a type of simple, dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants. A capsule is a structure composed of two or more carpels that in most cases is dehiscent, i.e. at maturity, it splits apart to release the seeds within. A few capsules are indehiscent, for example...

, splitting in two at maturity to release the two winged seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...


The genus is most closely related to Ligustrum
Ligustrum is a genus of about forty species of erect, deciduous or evergreen shrubs, sometimes forming small or medium-sized trees. They are now all known by the common name of privet.-Selected species:...

(privet), classified with it in Oleaceae tribus Oleeae subtribus Ligustrinae.

Lilacs are used as food plants by the larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of some Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 species including Copper Underwing
Copper Underwing
The Copper Underwing, Humped Green Fruitworm or Pyramidal Green Fruitworm is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is distributed across the Palaearctic region....

, Scalloped Oak
Scalloped Oak
The Scalloped Oak is a moth of the family Geometridae. It is a common European species.This is a distinctive species, usually with yellow forewings with a broad orange-brown band and a pointed apex. There can be considerable variation, with the central band sometimes the same colour as the rest of...

 and Svensson's Copper Underwing
Svensson's Copper Underwing
Svensson's Copper Underwing is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is distributed throughout Europe.This species has a wingspan of 47-56 mm, the female usually larger than the male. The forewings are brown, marked with pale fascia and a dark-centred pale stigma. The hindwings are bright...

 and Saras.


  • Syringa afghanica
  • Syringa emodi - Himalayan Lilac
  • Syringa josikaea
    Syringa josikaea
    Syringa josikaea is a species of Lilac, native to central and eastern Europe, in the Carpathian Mountains in Hungary, Romania, and western Ukraine....

  • Syringa komarowii
    Syringa komarowii
    Syringa komarowii is a species of lilac native to central China, commonly called Nodding Lilac.It is a shrub growing to 3-6 m tall, with erect branches. The leaves are oval-oblong, 5-19 cm long and 2-7 cm broad...

    (syn. S. reflexa)
  • Syringa mairei
  • Syringa microphylla
  • Syringa meyeri
  • Syringa oblata
  • Syringa pinetorum
  • Syringa pinnatifolia
  • Syringa protolaciniata
  • Syringa pubescens
  • Syringa pubescens subsp. julianae (syn. S. julianae)
  • Syringa pubescens subsp. microphylla (syn. S. microphylla)
  • Syringa pubescens subsp. patula (syn. S. patula)
  • Syringa reticulata
    Syringa reticulata
    Syringa reticulata is a species of Lilac, native to eastern Asia, in northern Japan , northern China, Korea, and far southeastern Russia....

    (syn. S. pekinensis) - Japanese Tree Lilac
  • Syringa spontanea
  • Syringa sweginzowii
  • Syringa tibetica
  • Syringa tomentella
  • Syringa villosa
    Syringa villosa
    Syringa villosa is a lilac flower that grows in China....

  • Syringa vulgaris - Common Lilac
  • Syringa wardii
  • Syringa wolfii
  • Syringa yunnanensis - Yunnan Lilac

  • Syringa × diversifolia (S. oblata × S. pinnatifolia)
  • Syringa × henryi (S. josikaea × S. villosa)
  • Syringa × hyacinthiflora (S. oblata × S. vulgaris)
  • Syringa × josiflexa (S. josikaea × S. komarowii)
  • Syringa × lacinoata (S. protolaciniata × S. vulgaris)
  • Syringa × persica
    Syringa × persica
    Syringa × persica, the Persian lilac, is a hybrid between Syringa laciniata and S. afghanica. It's height grows up to 4-8 and spreads about 5-10 ft, and prefers warmer winter climates than many species of lilac....

    (S. protolaciniata × unknown)
  • Syringa × prestoniae (S. komarowii × S. villosa)
  • Syringa × swegiflexa (S. komarowii × S. sweginzowii)

Cultivation and uses

Lilacs are popular shrubs in park
A park is a protected area, in its natural or semi-natural state, or planted, and set aside for human recreation and enjoyment, or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. It may consist of rocks, soil, water, flora and fauna and grass areas. Many parks are legally protected by...

s and garden
A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials. The most common form today is known as a residential garden, but the term garden has...

s throughout the temperate zone. In addition to the species listed above, several hybrids and numerous cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s have been developed. The term French lilac is often used to refer to modern double-flowered
"Double-flowered" describes varieties of flowers with extra petals, often containing flowers within flowers. The double-flowered trait is often noted alongside the scientific name with the abbreviation fl. pl....

 cultivars, thanks to the work of prolific breeder Victor Lemoine
Victor Lemoine
Victor Lemoine was a celebrated and prolific French flower breeder who, among other accomplishments, created many of today's lilac varieties...

. Lilacs will grow in a wide variety of soil types and prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil.

Lilacs flower on old wood, and produce more flowers if unpruned. If pruned, the plant responds by producing fast-growing young vegetative growth with no flowers, in an attempt to restore the removed branches; a pruned lilac often produces few or no flowers for one to five or more years, before the new growth matures sufficiently to start flowering. Unpruned lilacs flower reliably every year. Despite this, a common fallacy holds that lilacs should be pruned regularly. If pruning is required, it should be done right after flowering is finished, before next year's flower buds are formed. Lilacs generally grow better in slightly alkaline soil.

Lilac bushes can be prone to powdery mildew disease, which is caused by poor air circulation.

The wood of lilac is close-grained, diffuse-porous, extremely hard and one of the densest in Europe. The sapwood is typically cream-coloured and the heartwood has various shades of brown and purple. Lilac wood has traditionally been used for engraving, musical instruments, knife handles etc. When drying, the wood has a tendency to be encurved as a twisted material, and to split into narrow sticks. The wood of Common Lilac is even harder than for example that of Syringa josikaea.

In addition to being a widely used garden plant, a tea can be made from the leaves, flowers and thinner branches of Syringa vulgaris (common lilac), and common white lilac, which has a floral flavor. Some claim that this tea has shown some signs that it may produce a light euphoria in higher amounts (3+ cups of strongly brewed tea), but claims of this are relatively unverified and there is no scientific backing to report such claims. Also some find the white varieties of common lilac to have a sweeter and more pleasurable flavor, and both varieties (white and purple) seem to produce more palatable tea with more flowers and little leaves.


via Arabic للك lilak from Persian نیلک nilak meaning "bluish", ultimately from Sanskrit नील nila, which means "dark blue".[78]

The genus name Syringa is derived from Greek syrinx
In classical mythology, Syrinx was a nymph and a follower of Artemis, known for her chastity. Pursued by the amorous Greek god Pan, she ran to the river's edge and asked for assistance from the river nymphs. In answer, she was transformed into hollow water reeds that made a haunting sound when...

, meaning a hollow tube or pipe, and refers to the broad pith
Pith, or medulla, is a tissue in the stems of vascular plants. Pith is composed of soft, spongy parenchyma cells, which store and transport nutrients throughout the plant. In eudicots, pith is located in the center of the stem. In monocots, it extends also into flowering stems and roots...

 in the shoots in some species, easily hollowed out since ancient times to make reed pipe
Reed pipe
A reed pipe is an organ pipe that is sounded by a vibrating brass strip known as a reed. Air under pressure is directed towards the reed, which vibrates at a specific pitch. This is in contrast to flue pipes, which contain no moving parts and produce sound solely through the vibration of air...

s and flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...


The English common name "lilac" is from the from French lilac ("shrub of genus Syringa with mauve flowers"), from Spanish lilac, from Arabic lilak, from Persian lilak, variant of nilak "bluish," from nil, "indigo",

A pale purple colour is generally known as lilac
Lilac (color)
Lilac is a color that is a pale tone of violet that is a representation of the average color of most lilac flowers. It might also be described as light purple. The colors of some lilac flowers may be equivalent to the colors shown below as pale lilac, rich lilac, or deep lilac...

 after the characteristic color of the flowers of many kinds of lilac, especially Syringa vulgaris.


Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love (see language of flowers
Language of flowers
The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken...

). In Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, and Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called pascha
Pascha may refer to:*Easter, central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year*Paskha , an Easter dish served in several Slavic countries*Paska , an Easter bread served in Ukraine...


Syringa vulgaris is the state flower of New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, because it "is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State" (New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated (RSA) 3:5).

"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" is a poem written by Walt Whitman as an elegy
In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.-History:The Greek term elegeia originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplets and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaphs for tombs...

 to Abraham Lincoln. The poem was set to music by both Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

 and Roger Sessions
Roger Sessions
Roger Huntington Sessions was an American composer, critic, and teacher of music.-Life:Sessions was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a family that could trace its roots back to the American revolution. His mother, Ruth Huntington Sessions, was a direct descendent of Samuel Huntington, a signer of...


"Syringa" is the title of a poem by John Ashbery, from his collection Houseboat Days.

Lilac Wine
Lilac Wine
"Lilac Wine" is a song written by James Shelton in 1950. It was introduced by Hope Foye in the short-lived theater musical revue, "Dance Me a Song." It was covered by Eartha Kitt , by Judy Henske on her first, self-named album , by Nina Simone on her album Wild Is The Wind , was a solo hit by...

 is a song written by James Sheldon in 1950.


Several locations in North America hold annual Lilac Festivals, including:
  • The Arnold Arboretum in Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

    , Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

    , which celebrates "Lilac Sunday" every May. The Arboretum shows off its collection of over 422 lilac plants, of 194 different varieties. Lilac Sunday is the only day of the year when picnicking is allowed on the grounds of the Arboretum.

  • Lombard, Illinois
    Lombard, Illinois
    Lombard, "The Lilac Village", is a suburb of Chicago in DuPage County, Illinois. The population was 42,322 at the 2000 census. The United States Census Bureau estimated the population in 2004 to be 42,975.-History:...

    , called the "Lilac Village", which has an annual lilac festival and parade in May. The village also contains Lilacia Park
    Lilacia Park
    Lilacia Park, an garden, is located at 150 South Park Avenue, Lombard, Illinois. It specializes in lilacs and tulips. It is open to the public daily....

    , a garden with over 200 varieties of lilacs, as well as over 50 kinds of tulip
    The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of...


  • Mackinac Island
    Mackinac Island
    Mackinac Island is an island and resort area covering in land area, part of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island was home to a Native American settlement before European...

    , in Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , which celebrates a weeklong lilac festival and lilac parade each June.

  • Rochester, New York
    Rochester, New York
    Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

    , which has held its Lilac Festival since 1898, the longest-running in North America. This celebration is held in Highland Park, which has the most varieties of lilacs at any single place, many of which were developed in Rochester.

  • The Royal Botanical Gardens near Hamilton
    Hamilton, Ontario
    Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe...

    , Ontario
    Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

    , which holds its Lilac Celebration each May.

  • Spokane, Washington
    Spokane, Washington
    Spokane is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city of Spokane County of which it is also the county seat, and the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region...

    , known as the "Lilac City", which holds an annual lilac festival and lilac parade.

External links

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