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Japanese tree lilac

  • Trees and Shrubs
Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk')
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Jean-Pierre Bellemare)
Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'.



Origin and description

Lilacs include 30 species of deciduous shrubs and small trees belonging to the Oleaceae, or olive, family. They are native to southeastern Europe and eastern Asia and were introduced in North America. Syringa reticulata was discovered in the mountains of Japan. This species was first described in 1875 by the Russian botanist Maximowicz, who named it Syringa amurense var. japonica. It was introduced in the United States in 1876 at the Arnold Arboretum, in Boston.

This small tree or shrub can grow to 10 m. It has showy, bright red bark and erect, spreading branches. Flowers profusely and early, with large, creamy white panicles. Foliage is dull green in summer and not very attractive in fall. Simple leaves are opposite, oval, deciduous, wide and acuminate, bright green above and greyish below. They may have slightly downy undersides. Bisexual flowers are grouped in long creamy yellow, pleasant-smelling panicles. Japanese lilacs bloom profusely starting in mid-June, about two weeks after other lilacs.

Species, cultivars and related plants

'Ivory Silk': a magnificent cultivar of this species, with an oval shape and more compact growth than the species.

Common name

Japanese tree lilac

Latin name (genus)

Syringa reticulata

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Oleaceae

Growing conditions

Moderate growth.
Tolerates light shade, but prefers full sun.
Grows in various soils, but prefers neutral or alkaline soil. Likes cool, but not cold soil.

Easy to grow?

Easily transplanted.


This plant is popular for its colour and blooming time. Grown as a specimen or in association with other plants.


  • Zone 2

See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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