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A deciduous shrub or small tree, 12 to 15 ft high, forming a rounded head of branches; young shoots glabrous. Leaves 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, broadly ovate, sometimes roundish, tapered abruptly at the apex to a short point, rounded or broadly wedge-shaped at the base, dull green and glabrous above, pale and with a little scattered down beneath, most abundant on the midrib; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers fragrant, pale lilac or nearly white, produced along with the young leaves during early May in leafless panicles from one or both of the terminal buds of last year’s shoots. The panicles are 3 to 5 in. long, 2 to 3 in. wide, the corolla-tube slender, 1⁄2 in. long; lobes 1⁄8 in. long, the incurving of the margins making them cupped. Calyx very short, with triangular lobes. Series Pubescentes. Bot. Mag., t. 7064.
Native of N. China; introduced by Dr Bretschneider in 1881. It is only a second-rate lilac in this country, owing to the frequent injury of the young growths and panicles by late frost. In the United States, where the summer heat is greater, and the seasons better defined, it is very beautiful. The confusion in the naming of this shrub and S. villosa is alluded to under that species.