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CHIONANTHUS virginicus

Image of Chionanthus virginicus

Felder Rushing

Family

Oleaceae

Botanical Name

CHIONANTHUS virginicus

Plant Common Name

Common Fringetree, Granddaddy Graybeard

General Description

The wispy white flower clusters of common fringetree add a delightful haze to the spring garden. This native to the southeastern United States is a hardy deciduous large shrub or small tree that naturally inhabits moist woodlands. It covers a broad range of distribution, from New York State to Texas, so it is best to plant from regional stock.

When mature, the common fringetree develops an irregular, spreading crown. Its leaves are oblong and medium green with varying degrees of glossiness. The lightly fragrant, feathery white flowers appear in mid to late spring before the leaves fully emerge. Plants are either male or female, or dioecious. After pollination by bees, the female trees form clusters of small waxy dark blue fruits that are eaten by birds. The foliage turns muted yellow-brown shades in fall.

Grow the common fringetree in full sun to partial shade and acid to neutral soil that’s moist and fertile. It blooms on one year old wood, so be sure to only prune after it flowers. Otherwise, you may prune off next year’s flower buds. In cold regions it grows more slowly and adopts a shrubbier habit; where winters are mild it becomes more tree-like. Fringetree has few pest and disease problems but is favored by deer.

This is a breathtaking plant for the garden. Plant it as a specimen for a large foundation, in a mixed border or an open woodland garden among dogwoods, redbuds and azaleas.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    12'-20' / 3.7m - 6.1m

  • Width

    10'-16' / 3.0m - 4.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, South-Central United States, Texas

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Dark Blue, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Tan, Brown

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No