For other uses, see Syringa (disambiguation).
"Lilac" redirects here. For other uses, see Lilac (disambiguation).

Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) flowers
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Tribe: Oleeae
Genus: Syringa

About 20 species; see text.

Syringa (Lilac) is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering woody plants in the olive family (Oleaceae), native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia, and widely and commonly cultivated in temperate areas elsewhere.[1][2][3][4]

The genus is most closely related to Ligustrum (privet), classified with it in Oleaceae tribus Oleeae subtribus Ligustrinae.[5]

Lilacs are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Copper Underwing, Scalloped Oak and Svensson's Copper Underwing and Saras.


Via Arabic ليلك lilak from Persian نیلک nilak meaning "bluish", ultimately from Sanskrit नील nila, which means "dark blue".

The genus name Syringa is derived from Greek syrinx, meaning a hollow tube or pipe, and refers to the broad pith in the shoots in some species, easily hollowed out since ancient times to make reed pipes and flutes.[6]

The English common name "lilac" is from the French lilac.[7][8][9]

A pale purple colour is generally known as lilac after the characteristic color of the flowers of many kinds of lilac, especially Syringa vulgaris.


They are small trees, ranging in size from 2 to 10 metres (6 ft 7 in to 32 ft 10 in) tall, with stems up to 20 to 30 centimetres (7.9 to 11.8 in) diameter. The leaves are opposite (occasionally in whorls of three) in arrangement, and their shape is simple and heart-shaped to broad lanceolate in most species, but pinnate in a few species (e.g. S. protolaciniata, S. pinnatifolia). The flowers are produced in spring, each flower being 5 to 10 millimetres (0.20 to 0.39 in) in diameter with a four-lobed corolla, the corolla tube narrow, 5 to 20 millimetres (0.20 to 0.79 in) long; they are bisexual, with fertile stamens and stigma in each flower. The usual flower colour is a shade of purple (often a light purple or lilac), but white, pale yellow and pink, and even a dark burgundy color are also found. The flowers grow in large panicles, and in several species have a strong fragrance. Flowering varies between mid spring to early summer, depending on the species. The fruit is a dry, brown capsule, splitting in two at maturity to release the two winged seeds.[2][3][4][7]

Cultivation and uses

Lilacs are popular shrubs in parks and gardens throughout the temperate zone, and several hybrids and numerous cultivars have been developed. The term French lilac is often used to refer to modern double-flowered cultivars, thanks to the work of prolific breeder Victor Lemoine. Lilacs grow most successfully in well-drained soils, particularly those based on chalk.[10] They 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. Lilac bushes can be prone to powdery mildew disease.

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.


Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love (see language of flowers). In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia.

Syringa vulgaris is the state flower of New Hampshire, 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 to Abraham Lincoln. The poem was set to music by both Paul Hindemith and Roger Sessions.

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

"Lilac Wine" is a song written by James Sheldon in 1950.


Several locations in North America hold annual Lilac Festivals, including:

  • The Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts, which celebrates "Lilac Sunday" every May. The Arboretum shows off its collection of over 422 lilac plants, of 194 different varieties.[11] Lilac Sunday is the only day of the year when picnicking is allowed on the grounds of the Arboretum.
  • Lombard, Illinois, called the "Lilac Village", which has an annual lilac festival and parade in May. The village also contains Lilacia Park, a garden with over 200 varieties of lilacs, as well as over 50 kinds of tulips.
  • Mackinac Island, in Michigan, which celebrates a weeklong lilac festival and lilac parade each June.
  • Rochester, New York, 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, Ontario, which holds its Lilac Celebration each May.
  • Spokane, Washington, known as the "Lilac City", which holds an annual lilac festival and lilac parade.
  • Franktown, Ontario, Canada, holds an annual festival.[12]


  • Syringa afghanica
  • Syringa emodi - Himalayan lilac
  • Syringa josikaea
  • Syringa komarowii (syn. S. reflexa)
  • Syringa mairei
  • Syringa meyeri
  • Syringa microphylla
  • Syringa oblata
  • Syringa pinetorum
  • Syringa pinnatifolia
  • Syringa protolaciniata
  • Syringa pubescens
    • subsp. julianae (syn. S. julianae)
    • subsp. microphylla (syn. S. microphylla)
    • subsp. patula (syn. S. patula) - Manchurian lilac
  • Syringa reticulata (syn. S. pekinensis) - Japanese tree lilac
  • Syringa spontanea
  • Syringa sweginzowii
  • Syringa tibetica
  • Syringa tomentella
  • Syringa villosa
  • Syringa vulgaris - common lilac
  • Syringa wardii
  • Syringa wolfii
  • Syringa yunnanensis - Yunnan lilac


  • S. × diversifolia (S. oblata × S. pinnatifolia)      
  • S. × henryi (S. josikaea × S. villosa)
  • S. × hyacinthiflora (S. oblata × S. vulgaris)
  • S. × josiflexa (S. josikaea × S. komarowii)
  • S. × laciniata (S. protolaciniata × S. vulgaris)
  • S. × persica (S. protolaciniata × unknown)
  • S. × prestoniae (S. komarowii × S. villosa)
  • S. × swegiflexa (S. komarowii × S. sweginzowii)



External links

  • Spokanelilacfestival.orgaz:Adi yasəmən

ca:Lilà comú cs:Šeřík obecný da:Almindelig Syren de:Gemeiner Flieder en:Syringa vulgaris es:Syringa vulgaris fi:Pihasyreeni fr:Syringa vulgaris hsb:Wšědny bozowc ko:라일락 lt:Paprastoji alyva nn:Syrin no:Syrin pl:Lilak pospolity ro:Liliac (plantă) ru:Сирень обыкновенная simple:Syringa vulgaris sv:Syren zh:欧丁香

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