These spectacular flowering plants get their common name from the narrow, fringelike white petals on flowers that are borne in impressive, ample, lacy clusters. Male and female plants are separate; males have larger flowers. If both plants are present, females produce showy clusters of inches., blue-black, olivelike fruit that is favored by birds. Broad leaves turn bright to deep yellow in fall. Give good drainage. Minimal pruning needed. Requires some winter chill.
chinese fringe tree
- From China.
- To about 20 feet tall, not quite as wide spreading as Chionanthus virginicus.
- Usually seen as a big, multistemmed shrub but can be trained as a small tree.
- Leaves 24 inches long.
- Pure white, fragrant blossoms in clusters to 4 inches long appear in late spring or early summer, 2 to 3 weeks before Chionanthus virginicus comes into flower.
- A magnificent plant when in bloom, something like a tremendous white lilac (Syringa).
- Handsome gray-brown bark (sometimes golden on young stems) provides winter interest.
fringe tree, grancy graybeard
- Native to southeastern U.S. Leaves and flower clusters often twice as big as those of Chionanthus retusus; blooms appear a few weeks later.
- Lightly fragrant, greenish white flowers.
- Can reach 30 feet tall, but in gardens usually grows 1220 feet high with equal spread.
- Habit varies from very shrubby and open to more treelike.
- Grows more slowly in the Upper South, where young plants can be used as shrubs for a number of years.
- In that zone, it's one of the last deciduous plants to leaf out in spring.