Lilac

Lilac
Syringa vulgaris

The heart shaped leaves and the unmistakable fragrance provide easy identification of this shrub.

When Lilac’s are in bloom the air is filled with fragrance. The flowers can be crushed and steeped in a light oil (I prefer walnut oil) to produce a fine lightly scented perfume oil. The dried flowers can also be crushed and added to homemade soap for fragrance. The blooms should be picked early in the morning when they are full of moisture. This helps retain the fragrance. Flower beads can also be made from the petals.

Like most flowers they can be eaten raw or cooked. The flowers can be dipped in a light batter, an oriental tempura batter works well, and fried. They can also be folded into a light batter and deep fried like hushpuppies or fritters.

Swallowtail butterflies enjoy the rich nectar of the Lilac.

Lilac is a mild fever reducing agent. The leaves and seeds are dried and crushed and then brewed into a tea. A strong tea is good for mouth problems like sore gums, canker sores and the pain that comes with dental work like extraction. Tonics can be made more palatable by adding Lilac.

Lilac produces many dye colors depending on which part you use. The flowers will produce a light green dye. The leaves and trunk bark produce a deeper green and light brown respectively. Small twigs produce a yellowish orange dye. The tones will be different for each variation of Lilac.

As Lilac grows the larger limbs and trunks become pithy in the center. This pith can be removed with a heated piece of metal. Ceremonial pipes have been made with lilac. Flutes similar to recorders can be made from them as well as whistles. The wood is light weight and while it is not usually used for heat, the thin, pith filled limbs provide a good source of kindling.

Birds have seeded this Lilac with a sour Cherry Tree. Eventually the Lilac will be forced to send suckers out in order to survive. The roots and trunks are so intertwined that it would be impossible to separate the two.

Lilac can be planted to create a hedge. It suckers easily so if you don’t want a yard full of Lilac you should cut back the new growth.