Common Lilac – Syringa vulgaris


April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

T. S. Eliot–The Wasteland

This small tree to large shrub was first imported to North America in the mid 1750’s. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew them in their gardens. The original Lilacs can from Europe and Asia, with the bulk of natural species coming from Asia.

The leaves and fruit are anti-periodic, febrifuge, and tonic. The bark and leaves were given to children to chew to combat sore mouth. In America the leaves and fruit were used as a vermifuge. The flowers are very fragrant and the essential oil derived from them has been used in perfumery.

Various dyes have been garnered from different parts:

            Leaves – Green and Brown

            Twigs – Yellow-orange

            Flowers – Green

They are the state bush of New York, and the state flower of New Hampshire. In the Language of Flowers the purple lilac stands for the first emotions of love and the white flowered type stands for youthful innocence.


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