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How to Identify a Mock Orange

The Syringa (Philadephus lewisii), or Mock orange, is a perennial deciduous shrub that’s native to the Northwestern United States, including California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The Mock orange has been the official state flower of Idaho since 1931. You can find the Mock orange growing in full sun or partial shade along streams, rocky slopes and open hillsides. It most commonly grows at 7,000 feet elevation in the Northwest. Identify the Mock orange by its physical characteristics and the scent of its flowers.

Identify the Mock orange by its overall shape and size. The Mock orange is loosely branched and grows 3 to 12 feet tall.

Look at the flowers to identify the Mock orange shrub. The Mock orange’s flowers are white, about 1 inch wide, grow in clusters of three to 11 flowers and smell similar to orange blossoms. The blooms emerge in May or June.

Look for tiny, ¼-inch-long fruits to identify the Mock orange. The fruits are capsule-like and brown, with four “cells” in the capsules.

Identify the Mock orange by its leaves, which are green with slightly lighter undersides and are arranged opposite one another on the stems. The leaves are about 1- 3 inches long and 1-1 ½ inches wide, with just a few “teeth” on the leaf edges.

Study the bark to spot the Mock orange. Its bark is reddish-brown to grayish and peels readily into thin strips.

Pests On The Mock Orange

One possible pest of mock orange is the black scale, a type of soft scale insect. Get rid of large numbers of ants tending the scales using baits or by wrapping the mock orange trunk with a strip of fabric or paper coated with a sticky substance that will trap ants. These eight-legged pests cause a light-colored stippling or bronzing of leaves and premature leaf drop, also leaving indicative webbing where they are present. Spider mites prefer hot weather and dry, dusty conditions. If necessary, use a selective insecticidal soap or oil to control spider mites.


Look for slender opposite twigs that are light-brown or tan with dichotomous leaf-bearing characteristics. The Mock orange’s twigs are sometimes slightly hairy as well.


Don’t confuse the Syringa Mock orange with the Choisya ternata, which is also sometimes referred to as the Mock orange. The Choisya ternata’s real common name is the Mexican Orange Blossom, however, and this a compact evergreen bush with yellowish-green leaves.

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