Syringa reticulata

Japanese Tree Lilac




  • native to northern Japan
  • hardy to zone 3
  • plant does not like warm climates

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous large shrub or small tree
  • stiff, spreading branches
  • rounded crown
  • 20' to 30' tall
  • 15' to 25' wide
  • medium growth rate
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • opposite arranged leaves
  • simple, entire leaves
  • 2" to 5" long
  • rounded leaf base
  • dark green leaf color
  • leafs out early in spring

Autumn Foliage

  • poor fall color


  • off-white flowers
  • fragrant
  • blooms in early summer
  • flowers are borne in large terminal panicles
  • panicles are up to a foot long
  • panicles can be up to 10" wide
  • showy


  • capsules borne in large panicles
  • capsules have a blunt tip
  • capsules are a tan color
  • somewhat ornamental


  • color is a gray-brown
  • stout stems, that are shiny brown
  • horizontal lenticels


  • full sun
  • transplants easily
  • prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil
  • prune after flowering
  • cut off old flower heads
  • somewhat resistant to mildew, scales and borers

Landscape Use

  • specimen
  • street tree
  • small groupings
  • for flowering effect
  • for high quality foliage and form


  • does not have as severe of a pest problem as other Lilacs
  • caterpillars

ID Features

  • always white flowers in large panicles
  • very large panicles of fruit capsules
  • opposite leaf arrangement
  • shiny brown stems with horizontal lenticels
  • buds have 4 pairs of scales and are brown and sessile


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


'Chantilly Lace' - A form with variegated foliage, the leaves of this plant feature a pale creamy yellow perimeter. It will benefit from siting out of direct afternoon sun and good irrigation during drought. 'Cameo Jewel' is a new variegated form with yellow-cream splashed foliage.

'Ivory Silk' - This selection forms a pleasant, rounded tree to 25' tall with stocky branch structure. It is very common in commerce and blooms heavily, even as a young plant. The healthy, deep green leaves are not bothered by pests and the cherry-esque bark is attractive all year.

'Summer Snow' - A more compact, rounded tree, this form reaches 20' tall with ample production of very large flower panicles. Its toughness and small size may make the plant a good street tree.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.