Syringa josikaea

Common Name: Hungarian lilac 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Oleaceae
Native Range: Ukraine, Romania
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 6.50 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Lilac-violet
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant


Best grown in evenly moist, slightly rich, well-draining soils in full sun. Hardy in Zones 5-7. Plants do not grow well in sandy soils. Tolerant of damp soils but not poorly drained, water-logged conditions. Prune as needed after flowers have faded.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Syringa josikaea, commonly called Hungarian lilac, is a deciduous shrub native to rocky river banks and wet, wooded valleys of Central Europe including parts of Romania, Hungary, and Ukraine. Mature plants will reach 6.5-10' tall, 8-12' wide, and take on a multi-stemmed, spreading to arching form. The elliptic-oblong leaves will reach 3-4" long and around 2" wide. The leaves have pointed tips and a thickened, almost leather-like texture. Slightly fragrant, lilac-violet flowers bloom in 4-7" long, terminal, somewhat open, pyramidal panicles in late spring or early summer. This species has lent its late-blooming habit and flower color to numerous hybrid lilacs.

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.

The specific epithet josikaea honors Baroness Rosalia von Josika (née Countess Czaky), a 19th century botanist who advocated for this lilac to be considered its own species and sent living samples to other European botanists.

The common name Hungarian lilac refers to part of this species native range.


Problems include powdery mildew, lilac witches' broom, and scale. Known to be less susceptible to bacterial blight compared to Syringa vulgaris and its cultivars.


Shrub borders, lawns, parks, accent specimen. Suitable for use as an informal hedge. A good rootstock for grafting other lilacs. Good fresh cut flowers.