Thursday, May 13, 2010

S. vulgaris

S. vulgaris, the common lilac, in bloom at the Arnold Arboretum

This post continues a series on lilacs begun May 9th.
The common lilac, S. vulgaris, belongs to the Olive family and flowers in inflorescences with compact panicles (branched cluster of flowers) of bloom. Click on the color photo above to see the individual florets that make up each flower.

The fragrance of lilacs lingers in a memorable way. It is said that the wood of the lilac retains the scent of the blossoms and when old lilac branches are burned their perfume is released.

According to Greek mythology Pan, the god of the forests and fields, was so captivated by a beautiful nymph named Syringa that he chased her through the forest. Frightened by Pan’s affections, Syringa escaped him by turning herself into – what else? – a very beautful and fragrant lilac.

In the language of flowers, purple lilacs symbolize the first emotions of love.

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