Japanese tree lilac is larger than the shrub lilacs and it blooms a little later. It produces large clusters of small creamy-white, fragrant flowers.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
- Shade tree,
- Medium tree (25-40 feet),
- Small tree (15-25 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Spring blossoms,
- Fragrant flowers,
- Showy fruit,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Season of Interest:
- Late spring,
- Early summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators
Tree & Plant Care
Prune after flowering.
Disease, pests, and problems
Bacterial blight, leaf spots are possible.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Good resistance to powdery mildew, scale and borers.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Japan.
Bark color and texture
Reddish-brown, cherry-like bark with elongates lenticels.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple leaves in pairs (opposite) on stems; ovate with a rounded base, dark green. Leaves fall in autumn with little color change (yellow green).
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Small, creamy white, fragrant flowers held in large clusters (6 to 12 inches high). Flowers slightly later than the shrub lilacs.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Dry capsules, usually in large enough quantity that they add some interest to the late summer landscape.
Cultivars and their differences
Golden Eclipse Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata 'Golden Eclipse'): A more compact form (to 24 feet high). Leaves develop gold edges as the season progresses.
Ivory Pillar™ Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata 'Willamette'): A more narrow, upright form (25 feet high by 15 feet wide).
Ivory Silk Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata 'Ivory Silk'): More compact (20 to 25 feet high); flowers profusely and begins to flower at an early age.
Signature™ Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata 'Sigzam'): Flower clusters more rounded and smaller than those of 'Ivory Silk'. Flowers a week or two later than 'Ivory Silk'.
Snowdance™ Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ssp. reticulata 'Bailnce'): Flowers at an early age and flowers very prolifically. 20 feet high and wide.