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Japanese Tree Lilac

JAPANESE TREE LILAC (Syringa reticulata)

Although a Lilac, this member of the species is quite different in appearance from those with which gardeners are more familiar. Its’ upright habit varies from symmetrical to irregular. Cultivars including ‘Ivory Silk’ and ‘Spring Snow’, will present a consistent habit with more flowers than plants of the straight species.

This small tree can ultimately reach a height of 20 to 30 feet with a spread of 15 feet under the best of conditions.  It is available as single stem or clump form in the nursery and landscape trades.

Japanese Tree Lilac bears huge clumps of creamy white flowers borne in early summer that last for 2 to 3 weeks depending on temperatures. The blooms’ fragrance is so aromatic they can be smelled blocks away when the wind is right. The aroma has been described as a cross between common lilac and privet.  I believe Linden is a valid comparison also.

The green fruit clusters are somewhat showy, especially at close range. The bark is a beautiful glossy dark brown, with white lenticels similar to cherry tree bark.

Japanese Tree Lilac is considered urban tolerant, being adaptable to most soils with few serious pests, and has shown tolerance to both salt in the soil and aerial deposition of salt. It has shown to be a dependable performer in parking lot islands and median strips especially when the cultivars are used. Needless to say, the tree is rightly popular as a lawn and garden specimen plus shrub border accent.

Obviously, with all the above attributes, Japanese Tree Lilac can be and is a versatile and important addition to include in “The Diversified Urban Tree Planting List”.

Harold Hoover, Board Certified Master Arborist

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