Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Syringa x persica L. var. alba

Fully-hardy, compact bushy shrub with lance-shaped leaves, to 6cm long, and small, dense panicles of fragrant white to rose pink flowers in spring.  To 2m.  It is often regarded as a stable juvenile form of S. laciniata or S. afghanica x S. laciniata.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘It is difficult to say precisely when this charming shrub, a native of Persia, now so generally found in our gardens, and unknown to the older botanists, was introduced; Mr. Aiton has ascertained that it was cultivated here in 1658.  Of this plant, authors describe three varieties, one with blue, another with white flowers, and another with divided leaves, the latter considered by Miller as a distinct species, and called by him laciniata, appears to have been the first introduced by the Persian name of Agem.  The Persian Lilac is a shrub of much humbler growth than the common sort, seldom rising above the height of fix feet; its branches are slender, pliable, and widely extended, frequently bending downward from the weight of the flowers, which are produced from the beginning to the end of May in panicles uncommonly large, and are of a pale purple colour, with an agreeable scent, going off without producing any perfect seeds.  May be increased by suckers, but in a better manner by layers.  As this shrub bears forcing extremely well, it is one of those used for decorating windows, etc. in the spring of the year.’  [BM t.486/1800]. 

Loddiges’ Botanical Cabinet figured Syringa persica var. laciniata: ‘A native of Persia: it has long been cultivated in the country, having been known to Parkinson. […] It grows to a shrub four or five feet high, and flowers abundantly in May.  Like the whole family to which it belongs, it is very ornamental.’  [LBC no.1107/1827].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.952/1845].  Macarthur probably obtained Syringa persica from George Stevenson, South Australia, in 1844.  [MP, Vol.37, A2933-1, p.21].


Published Jan 20, 2010 - 04:32 PM | Last updated Jan 20, 2010 - 04:39 PM

Figured are leaves and a loose, conical panicle of small, single rosy-pink flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.486, 1800.

Syringa x persica L. alba | BM t.486/1800 rose pink form | BHL

Family Oleaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, Persia

  • Syringa persica L. alba
  • Syringa afghanica C.K.Schneid. x Syringa laciniata Mill.
  • Syringa vulgaris L. x Syringa laciniata
Common Name

Persian lilac

Name in the Camden Park Record

Syringa Persica var. alba - White Persian lilac 

Confidence level high