Lilac, Pekin Syringa pekinensis

Pekin Lilac - Syringa pekinensis
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Glossy reddish-brown exfoliating bark is accented by small, ivory-colored flowers. Blooms are in 3"-6" long panicles that blossom in late spring or early summer and are quite fragrant. Fine, dark green leaves form a multi-stemmed shrub, or can be trained as a small ornamental tree. A great addition to any landscape. Grows 15'-20' tall, with a 15' spread. Plant in well-drained, slightly acidic soil with full sun for best flowering.

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Zones 4 - 7 Zones 4 - 7
Hardiness Zones 4 - 7
The Pekin Lilac can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the zone map. View Map
Flowering Tree Flowering Tree
Type of tree
Flowering Trees, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs
15' - 20' High 15' - 20' High
Mature Height
The Pekin Lilac grows to be 15' - 20' feet in height.
15' Spread 15' Spread
Mature Spread
The Pekin Lilac has a spread of about 15' at full maturity.
Medium Growth Medium Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a medium growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
This lilac does well in full sun, partial shade.
Various Soils Various Soils

The Pekin lilac adapts to a wide variety of soil textures, slightly alkaline to acidic

irregular Shape irregular Shape
This lilac has irregular, rounded, or vase shape.

The Pekin lilac is a graceful, informal shrub with early summer clusters of tiny, fragrant, creamy white flowers, dark green leaves, and handsome reddish brown bark. Its appearance is neater and more refined than the larger Japanese tree lilac. It is hardy and urban tolerant for use as a specimen, border, container or above ground planter, near a deck or patio, street tree, sidewalk cutout, parking lot island, buffer strip, or highway.


A large, multi-stemmed shrub with an upright, arching, loose and open, symmetrical to irregular habit. The leaves are dark green The small. creamy white flowers are borne on panicles in late spring or early summer. The flowers are smaller than the Japanese tree lilac, Syringa reticulata. Lilacs are plants for cold weather and must have a dormancy period in order for them to flower. The bark is brownish colored. Some seedlings will develop beautiful exfoliating bark, while most seedlings will have an indistinct, dark, scaled bark. It adapts to a variety of soil conditions and needs full sum to partial shade. The Pekin lilac requires little pruning, It can be trained to develop a central leader for use as a single trunk tree. However, regular pruning will be required for several years to remove the drooping lower branches. It is probably the most pest-resistant lilac.

Wildlife Value

Lilacs attract butterflies, provide caterpillar food, and cover for birds and butterflies.


A native of northern China, it is also known as the Chinese lilac. There are 24 species of lilacs, two derive from Europe and others from Asia. The oldest living lilacs in North America are believed to have been planted at the Governor Wentworth estate in Portsmouth, NH around 1750.


The Pekin lilac prefers moist, well drained soil, but will tolerate moderate drought


The leaves are opposite, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 2"-4" long, dark green with no fall oolor change.

Flower Color

Creamy white, small flowers appear in 3"-6" long panicles. The fragrance smells like honey or privet.

Bloom Time

late spring, early summer

Fruit Description

elongated, flattened, 1/2" dry, green in clusters