Chionanthus virginicus - Fringe Tree
Family: Oleaceae

Hear the scientific name

Chionanthus virginicus is one of the best native American flowering shrub/trees. Some consider Fringe Tree to be the most beautiful tree when in bloom and believe it should replace the Flowering Dogwood as the quintessential "American Flowering Tree".

Alternate common name: White Fringetree

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form Form

-deciduous tree or shrub

-10-20' tall x 10-20' wide

-spreading, open habit

-variable shapes

-commonly multi-trunked, but can be pruned into single stem form

-slow rate of growth (less than 12" per year)

-moderate life span

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-opposite, simple



-narrow elliptic and with a pointy tip

-3-5" long x variable width

-medium green

-downy, especially on the veins

-leaves emerge later in the spring than those of most plants

-autumn color yellow to brown


-dioecious (male and female plants)

-white, before the foliage

-pleasant fragrance

-loose drooping panicles, 6-8" long

-late May, on old wood

-male flowers more attractive


-dark blue berry

-egg-shaped, 0.5" long

-effective in Sept.


-stout, often thickened between the nodes

-green to bluff-brown

-slightly squarish

-onion-skin like bark

-stems marked by dark lenticels


-starts gray, smooth and becomes slightly ridged and furrowed

-bark is thin and easily damaged by mechanical impact

C   U   L   T   U   R   E


-best in sandy loam, slightly acidic soil in a sunny site, with afternoon shade

-will also grow in partial shade

-roots must be kept cool with appropriate mulching

-somewhat adaptable to other soil conditions except alkalinity and drought (tolerates city conditions)

-propagated by seed and, with difficulty, from rooted cuttings

-limited availability, B&B


-zones 3 to 9


-native to Eastern U.S., New Jersey to Florida and Texas

U   S   A   G   E


-outstanding floral display


-slow growth

-some damage from scales and mites as well as leaf spots, powdery mildew, and canker


-specimen, near large buildings

-group in border plantings

-excellent in borders

-best against a dark background

-also good for naturalizing


-medium texture in foliage and when bare

-moderate density in foliage and when bare

S   E   L   E   C   T   I   0   N   S

Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species

p>-other spring-flowering trees (e.g., Cercis canadensis, Cornus florida, Crataegus, Malus, etc.)


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