One of the loveliest sights and scents of springtime is the lilac. In the language of flowers, lilacs symbolize wisdom, young love and remembrance. Lilac’s floral scent is used to promote harmony and increase mental abilities and invokes long forgotten emotions.
Lilac (Syringa species) is a member of the Oleaceae (Olive) Family. According to Greek mythology, a beautiful nymph named Syringa (Lilac’s genus name) had captivated, Pan, the god of the forests and fields, with her beauty. Pan chased Syringa through the forest. Syringa escaped Pan’s attention by turning herself into a lilac bush with the assistance of some nearby nymphs.
Pan realized he was holding reeds instead of Syringa. His sighs combined with the wind and reeds made harmonious sounds. Hermes (aka Mercury) suggested that, seven reeds of different lengths bound together could make pan pipes, which were called Syrinx in honor of the nymph. Syringa also means: “Hollow tube; tubular shape, pertaining to the shape of the flowers.” Although not hollow, lilac twigs can be easily drilled out to make flutes and pipe stems. Vulgaris, the species name, means common.
Lilac blossoms are edible, though they smell better than they taste, so use in small amounts. A springtime delight is to make a lilac cold-water infusion. Simply fill a glass pitcher with fresh (unsprayed of course) lilac blossoms. Fill to the top with spring water. Allow to steep for an hour. Strain before serving in glasses. Drink in the beauty and aroma. Scatter a few lilac blossoms on fresh green salads. The blossoms can be candied and preserved to decorate desserts later in the year.
The lilac shrub, native to Eurasia is deciduous, and incredibly cold hardy, long lived and bears many fragrant flowers, usually in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees, moths and butterflies. Lilac thrives in most soils, including chalk, but dislikes acid soils. Its preference is a well-drained alkaline loam in a warm sunny position. It is usually found growing in hedges, woodlands, and in dappled shade.
Move a bench in a position where you can sit, relax and breathe in the sweet aroma. Though the perfumed flowers are short-lived, the shrub itself has outstanding longevity and has been known to outlive many a human.
Author: Brigitte Mars
Editor: Travis May