A Lilac Bud Mystery

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

When most of the leaves have fallen from shrubs and trees, I find it fascinating examining twigs and buds. This website even has a section called Winter Buds where I show photos of the buds from over 125 species.

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

The lilac bud always remind me of the “peace sign” from the 1960’s.

Over the past few winters, I have noticed something peculiar about Lilac buds.

Sometimes they are green:

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

and sometimes they are brown:

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

The brown buds have exactly the same structure as the green buds.

Why are some lilac buds green and others brown? It’s a mystery.

Sometimes you find the two in the same branches:

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Another Lilac species, Japanese lilac,  is also found in Toronto, but the angle between the buds is quite different than the angle found with Common Lilac.

Japanese Lilac (Syringa reticulata)

Miles Hearn

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