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Chionanthus virginicus

Grancy Graybeard / White Fringetree

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A carefree native, this small tree puts on a heck of a show in late spring with thousands of pendulous, delicately fragrant white flowers covering the tree before the leaves emerge. At the end of bloom season, the green leaf tips accent the snowy blooms for an impressive finale. It's no wonder the Fringetree has been a garden favorite and heritage plant for generations!

The Grancy Graybeard is dioecious, meaning that there are male and female trees. The males are typically showier in bloom due to their longer petals, however, it is the female plants that are bedecked with dark blue fruit in late summer. Birds relish the fleshy fruit and will find it easily, even though the foliage sometimes hides it from view. The best way enjoy the graybeard is to have at least one of each, and to be certain you get a male and female, purchase them in late summer or early fall when fruit will be present on the female plants.


Benefits

  • A small graceful tree with fragrant flowers
  • Flowers attract butterflies
  • Fruits are eaten by a wide variety of birds and mammals
  • Including: wild turkeys, mockingbirds, blue jays, pileated woodpeckers and cardinals
  • Host plant for the Rustic sphinx
  • Selected as a Plant of Merit by the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Host plant for the Rustic sphinx

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Fringetree is easily grown in average to medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, fertile soils, but tolerates a wide variety, including the red clay of the south. Chionanthus virginicus seldom needs pruning, but benefits from some branch thinning if an open habit is desired. Tolerant of air pollution, it adapts well to urban settings.


Height
12-18 Feet

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Spread
12-20 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

Native Range

Chionanthus is found in rich, moist woods and hillsides, moist stream banks, limestone glade margins and rocky bluffs and ledges

Distribution Maps by State and County

Native Trivia

Chionanthus is Greek, meaning Snow Flower.

Characteristics & Attributes

Sun
Beneficial insects
Butterflies
Songbirds
Deer Resistant
Plan Sub Group
Deciduous Trees
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
Soil
Acidic
Heavy clay
Humus-rich
Well-drained
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Average
Moist
Moist but well-drained
Attracts Wildlife
Mammals
Bloom Time
Late Spring / Early Summer
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Songbird
Native Habitat
Forest
Grassland
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Dark Green
Uses
Accent
Fragrant
Mass plant
Specimen
Native to
Alabama
Arkansas
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maryland
Massachusetts
Mississippi
Missouri
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Virginia
West Virginia