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Belonging to the same group of lilacs as S. villosa and S. emodi, this is inferior in many respects to both. Its flowers, however, are of a deeper lilac than either. The leaves are whitish beneath, as in S. emodi, and of the same shape, 2 to 5 in. long. Panicle slender, 4 to 8 in. long, 2 to 4 in. wide. Corolla 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 in. or less across the lobes. Seed-vessel 5⁄8 in. long, bluntish at the end. Blossoms in early June. Series Villosae. Bot. Mag., t. 3278.
This lilac was first noticed about 1830 in what was then Hungary, having been sent by the Baroness von Josika to J. F. von Jacquin, the botanist of Vienna, who named it in compliment to her. Wild in the mountains of Transylvania and the Ukrainian Carpathians, it and S. vulgaris are the only native European species of lilac. It is distinguished from S. villosa in flower by the denser arrangement of the flowers in whorls and the slightly more funnel-shaped and purple-coloured corolla.
Syringa josikaea has proved a good species for crossing, with the development of a number of late flowering hybrids. S. × henryi Schneid. is the collective name for crosses with S. villosa, first produced by L. Henry in Paris towards the end of the last century, to which was later given the name ‘Lutèce’. S. × henryi has also been used in producing crosses with S. sweginzowii to which the name S. × nanceana McKelvey has been given and of which ‘Floréal’ (see p. 550) is perhaps the best known cultivar. S. × josiflexa Preston ex J. S. Pringle covers crosses between S. josikaea and S. reflexa, the first having been raised by Dr Isabella Preston of Ottawa in the 1920s and given the name ‘Guinevere’, but other cultivars have been raised, outstanding amongst these being ‘Bellicent’. See further on p. 550.