Syringa oblata
Common Name: lilac 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Oleaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 3 to 6
Height: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Pinkish-lilac
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but best bloom is in full sun. Prefers organically rich, moist, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils with good drainage. Avoid siting in frost pockets where late spring frost may damage the early bloom. This shrub needs good air circulation. Good tolerance for urban conditions. Prompt removal of faded flower panicles before seed set will increase the bloom in the following year. Prune as needed immediately after flowering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Syringa oblata, commonly called early lilac or broadleaf lilac, is a spreading, multi-trunked, deciduous shrub with arching branches which typically grows 8-12’ tall. It is native to China and Korea where it is typically found in woods, thickets, streambanks and along roads. Dense broad panicles (to 2-5” long) of very fragrant pinkish-lilac flowers (each floret to 0.5" long) bloom April-May. This species blooms earlier than most lilacs (about 10 days before S. vulgaris), hence the common name of early lilac. Flowers are followed by brown dehiscent capsules which persist on the shrub. Opposite, simple, round-ovate to reniform leaves (to 2-4" long) with abruptly acuminate tips and cordate bases emerge in spring with a hint of bronze, mature to dark green/blue green in summer, and finally develop purple-red tinting in fall. Early lilac is the only species of lilac to develop appreciable fall color.

Genus name comes from the Greek word syrinx meaning tube or pipe in reference to the pith-filled but easily-hollowed stems of some genus plants.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word oblatus meaning "flattened" or "oval-shaped" in reference to the shape of the leaves of this species.


Foliage may become infected with powdery mildew by late summer. Leaf-roll necrosis, anthracnose and leaf spot may occur. Potential insect visitors include aphids, caterpillars, borers and scale. Flower buds are susceptible to frost injury in early spring. Deer tend to avoid this plant.


Effective as a specimen or massed. Shrub borders, foundations. Good screen or informal hedge for property lines.