Field of Science

Street tree - Japanese lilac

Here a suggestion for a small flowering tree to plant along a boulevard, a Japanese lilac tree (Syringa reticulata). While bigger than lilac bushes, these trees are small, usually no more than 20-25 feet tall, and slow growing, so buy the biggest one you can afford. They bloom later than "standard" lilacs, late spring and early summer. In particular the plumey affect of the inflorescences as they transition from green to creamy white is very handsome. On our campus they make nice landscape trees between buildings and sidewalks, and because they are a convenient size, they seldom out grow their spaces, or not quickly at any rate. The flowers are quite fragrant, but a bit muskier than standard lilacs. This is a great tree to plant when you've grown tired of flowering crabs and Bradford pears.


Eric said...

It is just me, or are these especially favored in university towns? Downtown Lawrence, KS, has them all around, and I've seen them in other college towns, too, much more so than other places. A few places along Michigan Ave. or just off have them, though, if I recall from last summer correctly. Our own specimen is very fragrant, but no one would call it a lilac scent. Garden visitors are always wowed by the tree and the fragrance, but I still don't see them being planted much, and only rarely carried in the plant emporiums around here. They're missing out.

The Phytophactor said...

Eric, you couldn't be more correct. And then the town hires a landscaper to plant new street trees and they get 2 blocks of red maple, which does notoriously poorly here in the upper midwest. Can't figure out why this tree isn't more "fashionable"?