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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):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median,
  • Under utility lines

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

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

Seasons 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


  • 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.

Location of Syringa pekinensis 'Morton' (CHINA SNOW™ Peking lilac ) at the Arboretum