(Syringa vulgaris)


Winter twig
Winter twig


flowering shrub

distribution map

The leaves are opposite, heart-shaped, 4-8 cm long and on stalks 10-20 mm in length. They are hairless and their margins are untoothed, but pale when held up to the light.

ID check

Lilac is a deciduous shrub or small tree, branching from the base and growing up to 7.5 m tall, with a smooth bark. It is a non-native species often planted in gardens and escaping into hedges, thickets and shrubberies.

The lilac flowers are arranged in large terminal, pyramid-shaped clusters of about 100.

The flowers, 15 mm across, are of 4 petals joined to make a tube 8-12 mm long.

Each flower develops into a dry, oval, 2-chambered capsule, with 2 winged seeds in each chamber.


  • Many colour forms are grown in gardens, from white to deep purple, but those established in the wild are usually lilac.

  • The flowers are rich in nectar and attract many butterflies and bees.

  • A native of South-eastern Europe, it was brought to England in 1621 by John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I.

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