Peking Lilac

May 7, 2013

First of all, last week was pretty awesome. The weather in Maine has been pretty good and then on Wednesday, we had our spring board meeting for CMBG in Chicago. It was in the mid-80’s when we landed in Chicago and tons of people were out running and biking along Lake Shore Drive. On Thursday and Friday, the temperatures plummeted into the 50’s but that did not stop our enthusiasm for touring the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum. This was my first trip to Chicago, let alone either garden, which I had been wanting to see for years.

Both gardens are huge so our tours were quick and only covered part of each garden. I enjoyed seeing the different designs and plants that are used in Chicago. One plant in particular that caught my attention was Syringa pekinensis or the Peking lilac.

Syringa pekinensis China Snow'

The tree was just outside of the walled garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This individual was the cultivar ‘Morton’ which is trademarked as China Snow. The tree was just starting to leaf out and had yet to flower but what was striking was the beautiful exfoliating bark. The bark reminded me a bit of a paperbark maple. The tree is supposed to flower in June with creamy, white flowers. It is hardy to USDA zone 4 or 5 and can only take the heat of zone 7. Any zones warmer than this will cause the tree to languish. Syringa pekinensis matures at 25-30′ in height and 25′ in width.

China Snow lilac

China Snow lilac is a selection from the collections at the Morton Arboretum as a part of the Chicagoland Grows program. I cannot wait to add one to the gardens at Coastal Maine.

Morton close up




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  1. Aaron says:

    Peking Lilac looked like no other tree I ever saw, it looked magnificent almost like a human created beautiful sculpture.

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