Lilacs include 30 species of deciduous shrubs and small trees belonging to the Oleaceae, or olive, family. They are native to southeastern Europe and eastern Asia and were introduced in North America. Syringa reticulata was discovered in the mountains of Japan. This species was first described in 1875 by the Russian botanist Maximowicz, who named it Syringa amurense var. japonica. It was introduced in the United States in 1876 at the Arnold Arboretum, in Boston.
This small tree or shrub can grow to 10 m. It has showy, bright red bark and erect, spreading branches. Flowers profusely and early, with large, creamy white panicles. Foliage is dull green in summer and not very attractive in fall. Simple leaves are opposite, oval, deciduous, wide and acuminate, bright green above and greyish below. They may have slightly downy undersides. Bisexual flowers are grouped in long creamy yellow, pleasant-smelling panicles. Japanese lilacs bloom profusely starting in mid-June, about two weeks after other lilacs.