Lilac flowers are well-loved for their intoxicating fragrance, herbal value, and lovely colors. These sweet-smelling, attractive flowers are so popular that they are often grown as ornamental plants in gardens and parks. Flowers appear in spring and early summer and are associated with Easter in many cultures.
The strong-scented, four-petal flowers are used in a range of cosmetics, lotions, perfumes, food, and soaps. Lilac plants belong to the olive or Oleaceae family and are native to woodlands of southeastern Europe and temperate regions of Asia. Lilacs were introduced in America by European colonists in the 1750s.
Lilacs belong to the genus Syringa and the scientific name of the common lilac is Syringa vulgaris. Various varieties of lilacs grow as shrubs and small trees. There are about twenty-five species of flowering lilac and about a thousand lilac cultivars.
Some of the cultivars and hybrids of the common lilac are President Grevy, Beauty of Moscow, Bloomerang Dark Purple, Andeken an Ludwig Spath,
Charles Jolly, Angel White, California Lady, Blue Boy, Lavender Lady, Wedgewood Blue, and Hungarian lilac. Some varieties like the common lilac and the Japanese lilac grow into trees that can be as tall as twenty to forty feet. Bicolor lilac features variegated purple and white flowers.
Most lilac varieties are deciduous shrubs with undivided, green leaves. The common lilac has heart-shaped deep green or gray-green leaves that are arranged opposite to each other along the stem. Four petalled flowers bloom in large oval clusters. Flowers can be single or double in different colors like light or deep purple, white, red, pink, and creamy yellow. Fruits look like leathery capsules.
Lilac flower meaning finds its root in the Arabic and Persian word ‘lilaq’ or ‘lilak’ which simply means flower. The scientific name Syringa vulgaris is connected to the Greek word ‘styrix’ which translates into the word ‘pipe’ or ‘tube’. The flowers got this name owing to the plant’s hollow stem. The genus was named in the mid-1700s by the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus.
Like many other flowers, the Lilac flower meaning is also deeply rooted in Greek Mythology. According to Greek mythology, Syrinx was a beautiful nymph known for her chastity. Pan, the God of fertility, fields and forests, who looked after the well-being of shepherds and flocks, fell in love with Syrinx. To escape from Pan’s affection and to protect herself, Syrinx turned herself into a lilac shrub. Pan failed in his advances but located the lilac shrub. He cut some reeds from the shrub and created a panpipe, the first one of its kind.
Some people also connect the lilac to the Sanskrit word ‘nilah’ which means ‘blue’.
No matter from which language the flower derived its name, the Lilac flower meaning is always symbolic of joy, youthfulness, and ushering in the change of seasons.
What Do Lilac Flowers Symbolize
In the language of flowers, the Lilac flower meaning is symbolic of the joy of youth as the flower blooms in spring. It symbolizes a fresh start, renewal, and also innocence. The flower also stands for confidence, bygone love, and romance.
Lilac blossoms also symbolize confidence in someone. That makes these flowers wonderful floral gifts for graduation or wishing luck on new ventures.
Lilac flower meaning varies in different cultures. According to the old Celtic belief, lilac flowers had magical powers owing to the overpowering fragrance. In the Victorian era, lilac represented an old or bygone love. Widows often wore lilac flowers in remembrance of their lost husbands. During this era, lilac blossoms were also given to remind people of their first love.
Russians believed that holding sweet-scented lilac flowers over a newborn child would bring lasting wisdom. In the United States, lilac flowers represent the ‘Hearty character’ of people.
Although lilac flowers are synonymous witch many emotions and feelings, they are mostly connected to expressing love or affection.
What Do the Various Colors of the Lilac Flower Mean
Although the flower name lilac is synonymous with the color of the same name, lilacs bloom in different colors. Some hybrids also bloom in two colors. Common lilac flower color symbolism spans across European, American, and Asian cultures. Various colors in which lilacs bloom and Lilac flower meaning according to different hues are mentioned below.
- Blue: Blue lilac flowers bloom in soft, cool shades of blue. They are associated with tranquility and happiness. These blue flowers also symbolize a baby boy. Blue lilac blossoms have calming and therapeutic properties.
- Purple: Purple lilac flowers are associated with spirituality. Varieties of lilacs that bloom in shades of purple have the strongest scent. Lilacs bloom in light and dark shades of purple. Light purple lilacs represent first love and romance. The darker, richer, shades of purple lilac are tied to royalty, regality, and nobility.
As the lighter shades of purple lilac represent first loves, the dark purple varieties are often seen as symbolic of remembering somber anniversaries.
- Magenta: Magenta is a deep, rich tone of reddish-purple that is symbolic of passionate and unrestrained love. Magenta lilacs represent romantic love and the thrill of being alive.
- White: Like most white flowers, white lilac flowers symbolize innocence, sympathy, divinity, purity, honor, enlightenment, and new beginnings.
- Pink: Pink is not just for little girls. Pink lilac flowers represent love and friendship. They can be gifted to friends and partners to express admiration and confidence.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Lilac Flower
Lilacs are not just charming flowers with an intoxicating smell. They have many interesting facts and stories associated with them. Here are some –
- Lilac plants are known as the ‘Queen of Shrubs’ due to the beautiful flowers they bear.
- Lilacs are edible and are used in several foods and drinks.
- Due to the hard, dense, wood, lilac wood is used for engraving and making handles for knives, and making musical instruments.
- Lilac has many medicinal properties. In different cultures, lilac flower, foliage, and bark are used in treating ailments like rheumatism, cold, toothache, mouth soreness, gastrointestinal issues, and wounds.
- Purple lilac is the state flower of New Hampshire.
- In aromatherapy, lilac oil is used for relaxation and to infuse a sweet smell into a room.
- The oldest lilac bushes on Mackinac Island date to the 1870s. During the flowering season, the town celebrates a Lilac Festival for ten days in the first two weeks of June. The tradition has been going on since 1949.
- Lilacs are hardy plants that can live for more than a hundred years.
Best Time to Gift Someone Lilac Flowers
Lilac flowers in lovely shades of blue, purple, pink, and white make wonderful floral gifts on many occasions. Their pleasing scent and elegant look make them extremely popular and desirable.
Lilac flowers in a single color or a mixed bouquet make perfect anniversary gifts. For 8th wedding anniversaries, lilacs are the official flowers to gift.
Purple and magenta lilacs are expressions of love. They are great additions to wedding flower arrangements. Light blue lilacs say ‘pick-me-up’ so choose them when the occasion is right! Blue flowers also symbolize commitment and trust.
Lilacs don’t bloom year-round. So, gift them when they are in season. In spring and early summer, these flowers make lovely gifts on just about any occasion.