USA Official State Flower Official New Hampshire State Flower

Purple Lilac

(Syringa vulgaris)
Adopted in 1919.


The purple lilac, Syringa vulgaris, is the state flower of New Hampshire.


New Hampshire historian Leon Anderson writes in To This Day that the purple lilac was first imported from England and planted at the Portsmouth home of Governor Benning Wentworth in 1750. It was adopted as our state's flower in 1919.


That year bills and amendments were introduced promoting the apple blossom, purple aster, wood lily, Mayflower, goldenrod, wild pasture rose, evening primrose and buttercup as the state flower. A long and lively debate followed regarding the relative merits of each flower. The purple lilac was ultimately chosen, according to Anderson in New Hampshire's Flower -- Tree -- Bird because it "is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State."


New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated (RSA) 3:5
Anderson, Leon. Flower -- Tree -- Bird

State Wildflower. The pink lady's slipper, Cypripedium aca

Lilac is a common flowering shrub that grows best in a sunny location. The plant grows in shade, but flowering is poor and powdery mildew is likely to be severe. Common lilac grows 20 feet tall and spreads 15 feet. The growth rate is rapid and the plant produces many suckers. The flowers are in shades of purple, white or pink. Some colors listed in catalogs refer to the unopened flower buds. Flower bud color may be different from the flower color. There are few actual color variations.

  • Leaf: Opposite, simple, broadly ovate, 2 to 4 inches long, 1 1/2 to 3 inches, heart shaped, entire, dark green to bluish-green above, lighter below.
  • Flower: Light purple, pink or even white (cultivar dependent), fragrant, flowers in terminal clusters, 4 to 7 inches long, appearing in May.
  • Fruit: Dry, brown, capsules, 1/2 inch long.
  • Twig: Stout, angled (almost 4 sided) or ridged, lustrous brown, glabrous, numerous raised lenticels, leaf scars raised, crescent-shaped, buds large, green but turning purple in the winter.
  • Bark: Gray to gray-brown, smooth but becoming finely shreddy when large.
  • Form: A multi-stemmed, suckering, tall shrub reaching up to 15 feet in height.
Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta ? Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta ? Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida ? Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae ?
Order Scrophulariales ?
Family Oleaceae ? Olive family
Genus Syringa L. ? lilac
Species Syringa vulgaris L. ? common lilac