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A Floridata Plant Profile #153 Chionanthus virginicus
Common Names: fringetree, Grancy Gray Beard
Family: Oleaceae (olive Family)
Wallpaper Gallery (8 images)

tree  Shrub  Attracts Birds Attracts Butterflies Drought Tolerant Tolerant of Shade and Low Light Conditions Flowers Fragrant

A bonfire provides a smokey blue background for this fringetree in full bloom.
Fringetree is a large shrub or small tree t hat grows to about 20 ft (6.1 m) high, with one or a few short trunks and a rounded crown. It has opposite, deciduous, elliptical dark green glossy leaves. In spring the fringetree produces very showy, white flowers with narrow straplike petals that appear at the same time as the foliage. This tree is famous for its lovely sweet fragrance that is potent but never overpowering. Fringetree bears brownish, oval drupes about 1 in (2.5 cm) long in late summer.

Fringetree occurs in moist, rich woodlands from Pennsylvania to Florida, and west to Arkansas and Texas, often near streams.

Light: Full sun to partial shade. Fringetree does well in the filtered shade under large trees.
Moisture: Prefers moist, well drained situations but is also tolerant of droughty conditions.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10.
Propagation: Seeds or cuttings.

fringetree flowers
In early spring the delicately fragrant fringetree flowers appear on bare stems followed a short time later by the fresh green foliage. Click to download a large version of this image
Frequently cultivated for its ornamental value, fringetree is used as a free standing specimen. In late spring, it's showy fringe-like blooms cascade downward like the white beard of a wise old man inspiring another common name Grancy Greybeard.

Fringetree is one of the most beautiful flowering trees around. It blooms about the same time as the dogwoods and azaleas. It is adaptable to a variety of light and soil conditions. The bark has been used as the source of a tonic said to be a diuretic and a fever reducer. Fringetree is attractive to a variety of insects while in bloom, and to birds and small mammals when fruiting. The related pygmy fringetree (Chionanthus pygmaeus) is an endangered species restricted to the scrub communities of Central Florida.

Steve Christman 06/04/97; updated 3/20/00, 4/16/04

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