Content Detail

The Peking lilac is a dependable urban tree and a great choice for a parking lot, boulevard, and parkway plantings. Native to Asia, it is both hardy and beautiful, with attractive, amber-colored, peeling bark. In early summer, when many shrubs and trees are done blooming, it has large, creamy-white, honey-scented flower clusters.

  • Family (English) Olive
  • Family (botanic) Oleaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Under utility lines, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 15-20 feet
  • Mature width 10-15 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, clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early summer
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Oval, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Peking lilac is native to China.

Bark color and texture:

Bark is a cinnamon or amber color and is mildly exfoliating (peeling).

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

Leaves are simple, opposite with entire margins, and 2 to 4 inches long. Fall color is minimal (yellow-green).

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Small, creamy white, fragrant flowers are held in large clusters, 6 to 12 inches high.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

It bears dry capsules, usually in large enough quantities that they add some interest to the late summer landscape.

Plant care:

Prune the Peking lilac after blooming for best flowering the following year. It is tolerant of both acid and alkaline soil, but not wet sites. This tree is fairly drought tolerant once established.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and resistance:

No serious pests or diseases. Shows some resistance to common lilac problems like powdery mildew and borers.

Beijing Gold® Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘Zhang Zhiming’): 

This cultivar has creamy-yellow flowers, attractive, cinnamon-colored bark, and unique yellow-gold fall color.

China Snow® Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘Morton’): 

This cultivar has excellent exfoliating amber-colored bark and a rounded habit. Selected from the collections at The Morton Arboretum and introduced through the Chicagoland Grows® introduction program.

Great Wall™ Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘WFH2’):

This cultivar will grow to 20 feet high by 12 feet wide with an upright, oval habit and yellow fall color.

Summer Charm® Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘DTR 124’):

Another 20 feet high by 15 feet wide cultivar, but with a somewhat rounded form and finer foliage texture.


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