Content Detail

Japanese tree lilac is larger than the shrub lilacs and it blooms a little later. It produces large clusters of small creamy-white, fragrant flowers.

  • Family (English) Olive
  • Family (botanic) Oleaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 20-30 feet
  • Mature width 15-25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Road salt
  • Season of interest early summer, late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Oval, Pyramidal, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Japan.

Bark color and texture:

The tree lilac has reddish-brown, cherry-like bark with elongated lenticels.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

It exhibits dark green simple leaves in pairs (opposite) on stems that are ovate with a rounded base. Leaves fall in autumn with little color change (yellow green).

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Small, creamy white, fragrant flowers are held in large clusters (6 to 12 inches high).  Flowers slightly later than the shrub lilacs.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is dry capsules, usually in large enough quantities that they add some interest to the late summer landscape.

Plant care:

Prune after flowering.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and problem resistance:

Bacterial blight, leaf spots are possible. Good resistance to powdery mildew, scale and borers.

Golden Eclipse Japanese tree lilac  (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata ‘Golden Eclipse’):  

A more compact form growing to 24 feet high. Leaves develop gold edges as the season progresses.

Ivory Pillar™ Japanese tree lilac  (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata ‘Willamette’):

This cultivar has a narrow, upright form, growing 25 feet high by 15 feet wide.

Ivory Silk Japanese tree lilac  (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’): 

A more compact cultivar at 20 to 25 feet in height. It flowers profusely and begins to flower at an early age.

Signature™ Japanese tree lilac  (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata ‘Sigzam’): 

Flower clusters more rounded and smaller than those of ‘Ivory Silk’.  Flowers a week or two later than ‘Ivory Silk’.

Snowdance™ Japanese tree lilac  (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata ‘Bailnce’):  

Flowers at an early age and flowers very prolifically.  Grows to 20 feet high and wide.

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