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A deciduous shrub up to 12 ft or perhaps more high; young shoots somewhat angular, stout, warty, becoming grey the second season. Leaves oval-oblong, sometimes obovate or ovate-lanceolate, pointed, mostly tapered at the base, 3 to 8 in. long, nearly half as much wide, dark green above, paler beneath; there are many short hairs on the midrib and chief veins beneath, otherwise they become nearly glabrous before falling. Flowers densely packed in a series of whorls on a terminal, leafy, arching or pendulous, cylindrical or narrowly pyramidal panicle, 4 to 10 in. long and 11⁄2 to 4 in. wide, opening in June, not fragrant. Each flower has a narrow funnel-shaped tube about 1⁄3 in. long, rich pink or purplish pink outside, whitish within; and four ovate, pointed lobes inflexed at the tip which give the flower a diameter of 3⁄8 in. Calyx cup-shaped, with small erect teeth; glabrous or slightly downy. Seed-vessel cylindrical, 3⁄4 in. long, warted. Series Villosae. Bot. Mag., t. 8869.
Native of Hupeh, Central China; discovered by Henry in 1889; introduced in 1910 by Wilson, who found it at elevations of 8,000 to 9,000 ft. It is undoubtedly one of the handsomest of the Chinese lilacs and perfectly hardy. The most distinctive character is afforded by the shape and pose of the inflorescence which, in being densely packed with blossom, in being of cylindrical shape and more or less pendulous, differs from all other cultivated lilacs except S. komarowii (q.v.).
Syringa reflexa has been successfully used in various interspecific crosses. Hybrids with S. sweginzowii were first raised in the early 1930s by Messrs Hesse of Germany, who coined the collective name S. × swegiflexa for plants of this parentage. (See also S. × josiflexa, under S. josikaea, and S. × prestoniae).