common lilac Oleaceae Syringa
vulgaris L. symbol: SYVU
Leaf: Opposite, simple, broadly ovate, 2 to 4 inches long, 1 1/2 to 3 inches wide, heart-shaped, entire, dark green to bluish green above, lighter below.
Flower: Light purple, pink or even white (cultivar dependent), fragrant, flowers in terminal clusters 4 to 7 inches long, appearing in late spring.
Fruit: Dry, brown capsules, 1/2 inch long.
Twig: Stout, angled (almost 4 sided) or ridged, lustrous brown, glabrous, numerous raised lenticels; leaf scars raised, crescent-shaped; buds large, green but turning purple in the winter.
Bark: Gray to gray-brown, smooth but becoming finely shreddy when large.
Form: A multi-stemmed, suckering, tall shrub reaching up to 15 feet in height.
Looks like: Japanese tree lilac - late lilac
Additional Range Information: Syringa vulgaris is planted in the USDA hardiness zones shown above and may seed into the landscape. See states reporting common lilac.
More Information: Fall Color
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson