Content Detail

Japanese tree lilac is larger than the shrub lilacs and 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 Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Road salt
  • Season of interest late spring, early summer
  • 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. Blooms 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.

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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