Syringa

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Syringa
Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) flowers
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Lamiales
Family:Oleaceae
Tribe:Oleeae
Genus:Syringa
L.
Species

About 20 species; see text.

 
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Syringa
Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) flowers
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Lamiales
Family:Oleaceae
Tribe:Oleeae
Genus:Syringa
L.
Species

About 20 species; see text.

Syringa (Lilac) is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering woody plants in the olive family (Oleaceae), native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia, and widely and commonly cultivated in temperate areas elsewhere.[1][2][3][4]

The genus is most closely related to Ligustrum (privet), classified with it in Oleaceae tribus Oleeae subtribus Ligustrinae.[5]

Lilacs are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Copper Underwing, Scalloped Oak and Svensson's Copper Underwing and Saras.

Etymology[edit]

Via Arabic ليلك lilak from Persian نیلک nilak meaning "bluish"[citation needed]

The genus name Syringa is derived from Greek syrinx, meaning a hollow tube or pipe, and refers to the broad pith in the shoots in some species, easily hollowed out since ancient times to make reed pipes and flutes.[6]

The English common name "lilac" is from the French lilac.[7][8][9]

A pale purple colour is generally known as lilac after the characteristic color of the flowers of many kinds of lilac, especially Syringa vulgaris.

Description[edit]

Purple lilac bush

They are small trees, ranging in size from 2 to 10 metres (6 ft 7 in to 32 ft 10 in) tall, with stems up to 20 to 30 centimetres (7.9 to 11.8 in) diameter. The leaves are opposite (occasionally in whorls of three) in arrangement, and their shape is simple and heart-shaped to broad lanceolate in most species, but pinnate in a few species (e.g. S. protolaciniata, S. pinnatifolia). The flowers are produced in spring, each flower being 5 to 10 millimetres (0.20 to 0.39 in) in diameter with a four-lobed corolla, the corolla tube narrow, 5 to 20 millimetres (0.20 to 0.79 in) long; they are bisexual, with fertile stamens and stigma in each flower. The usual flower colour is a shade of purple (often a light purple or lilac), but white, pale yellow and pink, and even a dark burgundy color are also found. The flowers grow in large panicles, and in several species have a strong fragrance. Flowering varies between mid spring to early summer, depending on the species. The fruit is a dry, brown capsule, splitting in two at maturity to release the two winged seeds.[2][3][4][7]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

A white, double-flowered cultivar

Lilacs are popular shrubs in parks and gardens throughout the temperate zone, and several hybrids and numerous cultivars have been developed. The term French lilac is often used to refer to modern double-flowered cultivars, thanks to the work of prolific breeder Victor Lemoine. Lilacs grow most successfully in well-drained soils, particularly those based on chalk.[10] They flower on old wood, and produce more flowers if unpruned. If pruned, the plant responds by producing fast-growing young vegetative growth with no flowers, in an attempt to restore the removed branches. Lilac bushes can be prone to powdery mildew disease.

The wood of lilac is close-grained, diffuse-porous, extremely hard and one of the densest in Europe.[citation needed] The sapwood is typically cream-coloured and the heartwood has various shades of brown and purple. Lilac wood has traditionally been used for engraving, musical instruments, knife handles etc.[citation needed] When drying, the wood has a tendency to be encurved as a twisted material, and to split into narrow sticks.

Symbolism[edit]

Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love (see language of flowers). In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia.

Syringa vulgaris is the state flower of New Hampshire, because it "is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State" (New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated (RSA) 3:5).

Festivals[edit]

Lilacs as showcased in the Lilac Celebration held each May at the Royal Botanical Gardens near Hamilton, Ontario in Canada.

Several locations in North America hold annual Lilac Festivals, including:

Species[edit]

  • Syringa afghanica
  • Syringa emodi - Himalayan lilac
  • Syringa josikaea
  • Syringa komarowii (syn. S. reflexa)
  • Syringa mairei
  • Syringa meyeri
  • Syringa microphylla
  • Syringa oblata
  • Syringa pinetorum
  • Syringa pinnatifolia
  • Syringa protolaciniata
  • Syringa pubescens
    • subsp. julianae (syn. S. julianae)
    • subsp. microphylla (syn. S. microphylla)
    • subsp. patula (syn. S. patula) - Manchurian lilac

Hybrids[edit]

  • S. × diversifolia (S. oblata × S. pinnatifolia)      
  • S. × henryi (S. josikaea × S. villosa)
  • S. × hyacinthiflora (S. oblata × S. vulgaris)
  • S. × josiflexa (S. josikaea × S. komarowii)
  • S. × laciniata (S. protolaciniata × S. vulgaris)
  • S. × persica (S. protolaciniata × unknown)
  • S. × prestoniae (S. komarowii × S. villosa)
  • S. × swegiflexa (S. komarowii × S. sweginzowii)

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flora Europaea: Syringa
  2. ^ a b Flora of China: Syringa
  3. ^ a b Flora of Pakistan: Syringa
  4. ^ a b Germplasm Resources Information Network: Syringa
  5. ^ University of Oxford, Oleaceae information site: New classification of the Oleaceae
  6. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=syringe
  7. ^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  8. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=lilac
  9. ^ Vedel, H., & Lange, J. (1960). Trees and Bushes in Wood and Hedgerow. Metheun & Co. Ltd., London.
  10. ^ Hillier Nurseries, The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs, David and Charles, 1998, p659 ISBN 0-7153-0808-4
  11. ^ Harvard.edu
  12. ^ "Franktown Lilac Festival". Lanark County Tourism. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 

External links[edit]