The Peking lilac is a dependable urban tree and a great choice even for parking lot, boulevard, and parkway plantings. Native to Asia, it is both hardy and beautiful, with attractive, amber-colored, peeling bark. In early summer, when many shrubs and trees are done blooming, it has large, creamy-white, honey-scented flower clusters.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Under utility lines
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Shade tree,
- 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
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- May be difficult to find in nurseries
- Spring blossoms,
- Fragrant flowers,
- Showy fruit,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators
Tree & Plant Care
Prune after blooming for best flowering the following year.
Tolerant of both acid and alkaline soil. Avoid wet sites.
Fairly drought tolerant once it is established.
Disease, pests, and problems
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Shows some resistance to common lilac problems like powdery mildew and borers.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to China.
Bark color and textureting
Bark is a cinnamon or amber color and is mildly exfoliating (peeling).
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color
Simple, opposite leaves with entire margins; 2-4 inches long.
Fall color is minimal (yellow-green).
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Small, creamy white, fragrant flowers held in large clusters (6 to 12 inches high).
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
China Snow® Peking Lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘Morton’): This cultivar has excellent exfoliating amber-colored bark and a rounded habit. Selected from the collections at The Morton Arboretum and introduced through the Chicagoland Grows® introduction program.
Great Wall™ Peking Lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘WFH2’): 20 feet high by 12 feet wide with an upright, oval habit; yellow fall color.
Summer Charm® Peking Lilac (Syringa pekinensis ‘DTR 124’): 20 feet high by 15 feet wide, with somewhat rounded form. Finer foliage texture.