Lilac Syringa vulgaris
Family: Oleaceae (Olive)
Branching: Opposite

Lilac is a common shrub planted in gardens and yards and often escapes.  It is usually easy to identify in the winter with a combination of retained seed pods and buds.  The buds often occur in a terminal pair similar to Elderberry, Bladdernut or Cranberry Viburnum (though Lilac is more obvious).  There are usually seed pods visible throughout the winter and they can provide a quick identification.  Although it is technically a shrub, they can grow quite tall, more than twice the height of a person and can apparently live for a few hundred years.  There are numerous cultivars and varieties that are often planted, some of them much more tree-like in form (single trunk, taller...)

Double end bed typical of Lilac

Lateral flower buds.  Notice the similar in appearance to Elderberry.  
Try pinching the twig or checking the pith.

Lateral buds, with a flower bud on the left and a leaf bud on the right.


Leftover fruits

Another view of the "pods"

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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