Flora and Fauna
Syringa vulgaris (Lilac or Common Lilac) is a shrub (tree) belonging to the olive family and is a native of the Balkan peninsula in the southeastern Europe where it grows on rocky hills. It can grow as high as fifteen feet and is very hardy, but if not pruned it may be choked by suckers which come up from the roots.It bears its fragrant flowers in clusters at the end of the twigs, and a lilac hedge in full bloom gratifies both the eye and the sense of smell. There are several species and many varieties, ranging in color from a dark bluish purple, through delicate lavender to pure white.
Aside from Roses, there is no flower as beautiful and aromatic as Lilacs. Of the two, Lilacs have a stronger scent that carries quite a distance. The lilac is blooming in May-June with sweet-smelling flowers. It's common in Denmark in garden and in hedgerows, and it was already commonly cultivated from ab. the 1650s. In the beginning of June the soft scent of purple lilacs is flowing from hundreds of hedgerows on the Danish island Funen, especially in the southwestern part of the island.
The English common name lilac is from French lilac, from Spanish lilac, from Persian lilak, from Arabic lilak. The name syringa comes from the Greek word syrinx = flute. The marrow is easy to remove and the wood was used for flutes, pipe tubes and other pipeshaped instruments and tools, and in fine turning works, inlaid works and tool shafts. Thin sticks from lilac or willow were used as thatching sticks. The lilac twigs were preferred to the willow twigs as a spread over the newly sown herbal beds, so the hens could not go scrathcing there.
Boys carved flutes from the branches, and the tough bark strips were used in spring as whiplashes. A leaf was put over the fist and cut with a bang.
The flowers were put on strings for fine garlands, and on Whit Sunday the rooms were decorated with lilacs and narcissus.
Essence from the leaves was used as a stomach tonic against diarrhea, and essence from the flowers was used against hypocondria and colic. The scent of large bouquets of lilacs in a closed room was known to give a headache.
If the lilacs have a strong scent then it's going to rain. If you find a flower with three petals (normal 4) this will cause sorrow, but five petals means luck.
If the thumb and forefinger are squeezed around a flower at the stalk - and the hand is moved up and down until the flower falls off, the number of movements indicate years of life.
Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love. In Greece, Lebanon and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia. Several locations in North America hold annual Lilac festivals.
The lilac is a popular flower both in Danish and international prosa and poetry.
Source: V J. Brøndegård, "folk og flora", Dansk Etnobotanik, bd. 4, Rosenkilde og Bagger, 1978.
photos May and June: grethe bachmann
Lilac is a colour that is a pale tone of violet that is a representation of the average colour of most lilac flowers. It might also be descibed as light purple. The colours of some lilac flowers may be equivalent to the colours pale lilac, rich lilac or deep lilac. There are other lilac flowers that are coloured red-violet. The first recorded use of lilac as a colour name in English was in 1775.