Page  128 ï~~128 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 43 THE BIG TREES OF MICHIGAN 36. Syringa vulgaris L. Common Lilac Elwood B. Ehrle Department of Biological Sciences Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 49008 The largest known Common Lilac in Michigan is located near St. Ignace in Mackinac County near the eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Several other very large lilacs occur on nearby Mackinac Island. Description of the species: Although technically not a tree at all, when Common Lilacs become very old and reach heights of 30' (9.1 m), they will have a reduced number of main trunks and look more like trees than the shrubs from which they have grown. It has been decided, consequently, to include them and other large Michigan shrubs in this series without changing its title. The Common Lilac belongs to the olive family, Oleaceae, along with Forsythia, Fraxinus (ashes), and Ligustrum (privets). Ashes are native forest trees. Forsythia is frequently planted for its bright yellow, early spring flowers, and Ligustrum is frequently planted for hedges. The Common Lilac is present in Michigan in the form of many cultivars. It is easily recognized by its opposite leaves and cordate-ovate leaf blades, its shrubby habit when young, and its large panicles (10-20 cm. long) of aromatic tetramerous flowers (see Fig.1). The corolla is tubular and spreads into four lobes. The flowers are usually white, pink, lavender, or reddish-purple. It has widely escaped (or persisted) from cultivation throughout Michigan. It is a native of northeastern Europe. Location of Michigan's Big Tree: The State Champion Common Lilac stands in front of a green and white house with a flagpole at 332 Pt. La Barbe Road. To reach the tree take the Mackinac Bridge (I-75) across the Straits of Mackinac to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Soon after leaving the bridge go 2 miles on US 2 northwest away from St. Ignace. Turn left (south) on Pt. La Barbe road and proceed to #322. Description of Michigan's Big Tree: The State Champion Common Lilac was measured by Charles Ulrich and Elwood B. Ehrle on 1 August 1998. The main trunk forks into several trunks at 4Y' above the ground. The largest of the branch trunks has a girth of 65" (5'5" or 1.7 m) above 4Y'. Smaller trunks have girths of 52" (4'4" or 1.3 m) and 35" (2'11" or 0.9 m). The "tree" is 30' high (9.1 m) and has an average crown spread of 29' (8.8 m). Other Common Lilacs, nearly as

Page  129 ï~~2004 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 129 2004 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 129 FIGURE 1. Documented distribution and characteristics of the Common Lilac. The map (5) is from Voss (1996). The asterisk indicates the location of Michigan's Big Tree. The illustrations are from original art prepared by Sara James in 1999. 1. Twig with buds and opposite leaves (x%). 2. Panicles of tetramerous flowers (x%4). 3 Capsules (xl). 4. Capsules open (xl1). large, were measured on Mackinac Island. Table 1 compares six large Common Lilacs on Mackinac Island with the St. Ignace State Champion. INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE If you would like to join in extending this series of articles by visiting and describing one or more of Michigan's Champion trees, please contact Elwood B.

Page  130 ï~~130 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 43 TABLE 1. Six Large Common Lilacs Measured in 1998 on Mackinac Island and Compared with the St. Ignace State Champion. Big Tree Inventory # Location G (") H (') C.S.(') Notes 426 Pt. La Barbe Rd, St. Ignace 65 30 29 State Champion. 427 Metivier Inn, Market St. 49 25 31 2 main trunks. 1887 west of Fort St. photo shows lilac in front. 428 Across from St. Anne's 59 25 31 1 main trunk, 1 smaller trunk. Church 429 French Lane near Market St., 50 25 40 3 main trunks. side yard. 868 Grand Ave., 2 doors 35 27 30 2 main trunks. N of Grand Cottage 869 Grand Ave., in front 52 28 37 4 main trunks. of Grand Cottage Former home of Wm. Backhouse Astor, built in 1819. 870 Harbor View Inn, 40 30 39 4 main trunks. Huron St., near Church St. Ehrle for help with locations, specifications for taking measurements, and assistance with the manuscript. The Michigan Botanical Club encourages your involvement in this activity. Please remember to ask permission before entering private property. LITERATURE CITED Voss, E.G. 1996. Michigan Flora. Part III Dicots (Pyrolaceae-Compositae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science No. 61 and University of Michigan Herbarium, Ann Arbor, MI. xix + 622 pp.