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TREES & plants

CHINA SNOW™ Peking lilac

CHINA SNOW™ Peking lilac in full flower.

CHINA SNOW™ Peking lilac is a Chicagoland Grows® introduction that is both hardy and beautiful, with attractive, exfoliating, amber-colored bark and rounded habit. It is a dependable urban tree and a great choice even for parking lot, boulevard, and parkway plantings.

Botanical name: 
Syringa pekinensis 'Morton'
All Common Names: 
CHINA SNOW™ Peking lilac
Family (English): 
Olive
Family (Botanic): 
Oleaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median, 
  • Under utility lines
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen, 
  • Utility
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet), 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
20-30 feet
Mature Width: 
15-25 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms, 
  • Fragrant flowers, 
  • Persistent fruit/seeds, 
  • Showy fruit, 
  • Showy flowers, 
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant, 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Butterflies, 
  • Hummingbirds, 
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Tolerant of both acid and alkaline soil.  Avoid wet sites.
Fairly drought tolerant once it is established.
Prune after flowering.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

This tree shows resistance to bacterial blight, powdery mildew, scale insects and lilac borers.

Native geographic location and habitat

This is a cultivated variety of a non-naitve species.  The species originates in China

Bark color and texture 

The amber-colored bark peels and is attractive year round.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Heart-shaped leaves are in pairs (opposite); 2 to 4 inches long with an entire margin.
Leaves are green in summer, turning yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large clusters of fragrant, creamy-white flowers in early summer.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruit are small dry capsules held in large clusters.

Syringa pekinensis 'Morton' or CHINA SNOW™ Peking lilac