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.[1][2][3][4]


Syringa josikaea

They are deciduous shrubs or small trees, ranging in size from 2-10 m tall, with stems up to 20-30 cm 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 5-10 mm in diameter with a four-lobed corolla, the corolla tube narrow, 5-20 mm 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][5]

The genus is most closely related to Ligustrum (privet), classified with it in Oleaceae tribus Oleeae subtribus Ligustrinae.[6]

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.


Syringa microphylla C

Syringa microphylla

Royal Botanical Gardens Lilac Celebration

Lilacs as showcased in the Lilac Celebration held each May at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario



  1. Flora Europaea: Syringa
  2. 2.0 2.1 Flora of China: Syringa
  3. 3.0 3.1 Flora of Pakistan: Syringa
  4. 4.0 4.1 Germplasm Resources Information Network: Syringa
  5. Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  6. University of Oxford, Oleaceae information site: New classification of the Oleaceae

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