Lilac (Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

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Common Name(s): Lilac

Scientific Name: Syringa spp. (Syringa vulgaris)

Distribution: Native to Europe and Asia; cultivated in many temperate areas worldwide

Tree Size: 6-25 ft (2-8 m) tall, 4-8 in (10-20 cm) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 59 lbs/ft3 (945 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .74, .95

Janka Hardness: 2,350 lbf (10,440 N)*

*Estimated hardness based on specific gravity

Modulus of Rupture: No data available

Elastic Modulus: No data available

Crushing Strength: No data available

Shrinkage: Tangential shrinkage is in excess of 10%; reported to have a high level of shrinkage

Color/Appearance: Colors can be variable depending on species. Sometimes seen with reddish or lavender color streaks throughout the heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Slightly interlocked grain, with a very fine texture. Good natural luster.

Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous; small to medium earlywood pores and small latewood pores, very numerous; pores can sometimes be exclusively solitary, or a mix of solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; growth rings usually distinct; narrow rays not visible without lens, spacing fairly close; parenchyma absent.

Rot Resistance: No official reports available.

Workability: Reported to be an excellent turning wood. Tends to distort and develop end-checks during drying.

Odor: Lilac has a distinct, floral scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Lilac. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Due to its small size (typically only a shrub or bush), Lilac is not considered a woodworking lumber, and is never commercially harvested. Small pieces may be occasionally available from through hobbyist and other small-scale channels.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Occasionally used for small turned projects such as pens and bowls, as well as carved items.

Comments: In the Oleaceae family, Lilac bears at least a distant relation to Olive. Not to be confused with Chinaberry, which is an unrelated species that is sometimes referred to as “Persian Lilac.”

Related Species:

None available.

Scans/Pictures:

Lilac (Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Lilac (sanded)

Lilac (sealed)

Lilac (sealed)

Lilac (endgrain)

Lilac (endgrain)

Lilac (endgrain 10x)

Lilac (endgrain 10x)

10 Comments

  1. atul March 6, 2018 at 7:27 am - Reply

    how does polishing with laquer work on this wood , oris there any special treatment required

  2. atul March 6, 2018 at 7:25 am - Reply

    hi was wondering , how good is this wood for making furniture and whats the normal seasoning or drying process

    • Eric March 8, 2018 at 11:46 am - Reply

      My (very limited) experience with Lilac is that it seldom gets big enough to use for things like furniture, but if you do manage to get pieces big enough, you should probably be very intentional about how you design the furniture. In my experience, Lilac is pretty unstable and will shrink and warp a lot as it dries — I’m not sure if that also translates to being unstable once dried, but it should at least be taken into account.

  3. Axickar August 3, 2016 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Would this be a safe wood for hamsters to chew on? Like, does it have any oils in it or anything?

  4. Rives McDow January 6, 2015 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    I have gathered root balls of lilac, both live and burned over by fire. Turning the wood green is a real pleasure, the root balls are made up of lignotubers, which are essentially very small burls about 1/4″ or so in diameter, packed together to make up the root ball. After the wood is dry, it is extremely hard, and is very difficult to turn. Sharp tools or carbide tools take off very small shavings, about .001″ thick in most cases. Because of the fine structure of the lignotubers, the wood is very tough. When the root balls are found burned and dead, the wood dries very differently. It is still very hard, but the toughness has given way to a brittleness.

    • luntu April 13, 2016 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Can it be used as firewood, just worried about it being poisonous

      • Rives McDow April 15, 2016 at 1:12 pm - Reply

        We burn it all the time, and have never had any difficulty, or would have any reason to suspect that there would be any. The wood is not poisonous that I know of, and haven’t caused me any problems when turning, except that the water/sap in the wood is very deep red, and gets on your hands and clothes. Washes out though.

  5. Mike Kennedy April 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    So is lilac considered a hardwood or softwood?

    • ejmeier April 23, 2014 at 10:32 am - Reply

      It’s a hardwood.

      • Mike Kennedy April 23, 2014 at 3:06 pm - Reply

        Thank you very much!

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