AskDefine | Define lilac

Dictionary Definition

lilac adj : of a pale purple color [syn: lavender] n : any of various plants of the genus Syringa having large panicles of usually fragrant flowers

User Contributed Dictionary




(US) IPA: /ˈlaɪlək/


  1. a large shrub bearing white, pale pink or purple flowers.
  2. lilac flowers
  3. (colour) a pale purple colour, the colour of some lilac flowers.
    lilac colour:   




  1. (colour) having a pale purple colour.



Extensive Definition

The unrelated but somewhat similar-looking Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) is sometimes called "lilac" too.
About the color see Lilac (color).
Syringa' (Lilac) is a genus of about 20–25 species of flowering plants in the olive family (Oleaceae), native to Europe and Asia.
They are deciduous shrubs or small trees, ranging in size from 2–10 m tall, with stems up to 20–30 cm diameter. The leaves are opposite (occasionally in whorls of three) in arrangement, and their shape is simple and heart-shaped to broad lanceolate in most species, but pinnate in a few species (e.g. S. protolaciniata, S. pinnatifolia). The flowers are produced in spring, each flower being 5–10 mm in diameter with a four-lobed corolla, the corolla tube narrow, 5–20 mm long; they are A-sexual, with fertile stamens and stigma in each flower. The usual flower colour is a shade of purple (often a light purple or lilac), but white and pale pink are also found. The flowers grow in large panicles, and in several species have a strong fragrance. Flowering varies between mid spring to early summer, depending on the species. The fruit is a dry, brown capsule, splitting in two at maturity to release the two winged seeds.
The genus is most closely related to Ligustrum (privet), classified with it in Oleaceae tribus Oleeae subtribus Ligustrinae.
Lilacs are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Copper Underwing, Scalloped Oak and Svensson's Copper Underwing.


A pale purple colour is generally known as lilac after the flower.


Purple lilacs symbolize first love and white lilacs youthful innocence (see Language of flowers). In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Eastertime because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia.
Syringa vulgaris is the state flower of New Hampshire, because it "is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State" (New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated (RSA) 3:5).
Numerous locations around North America hold yearly Lilac Festivals, the longest-running of which is the one in Rochester, New York. Rochester's Lilac Festival held at Highland Park has the most varieties of lilacs at any single place and many of the lilacs were developed in Rochester.


lilac in Czech: Šeřík
lilac in Danish: Syren-slægten
lilac in German: Flieder
lilac in Spanish: Syringa
lilac in Esperanto: Siringo
lilac in French: Syringa
lilac in Korean: 수수꽃다리속
lilac in Italian: Syringa
lilac in Hebrew: לילך
lilac in Georgian: იასამანი
lilac in Lithuanian: Alyva
lilac in Dutch: sering
lilac in Norwegian: Syriner
lilac in Polish: Lilak
lilac in Portuguese: Syringa
lilac in Russian: Сирень
lilac in Finnish: Syreenit
lilac in Swedish: Syrener
lilac in Vietnamese: Chi Tử đinh hương
lilac in Ukrainian: Бузок
lilac in Chinese: 丁香屬
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