above Chionanthus retusus blooms, closely related to the native version

Chionanthus virginicus | Fringe Tree

Native to MD and the east coast piedmont and accross to the mid-west, found wild in the woods or available at the nursery. This is a versital tree, a good pick for a variety of circulmstances. Open and airy branching with very showy, fringey blooms that have a lovely spicey scent. The native Fringe Tree is smaller than its Asian cousin, Chionanthus retusus | Chinese Fringe Tree which is also beautiful with gorgeous exfoliating bark with denser folliage. Both have graceful branches and like to live on the edges peaking into the sun from the shadey side. Good in mass or alone.

Basically problem free – EASY. This one is for you, if you don’t want to do any maintenance. Can be pruned if it becomes leggy.
Dioecious – you need both, but both flower. Males slightly more showy. Blooms in late May to June when not much else is blooming, good for transition.
Cultivars (vs liberating one from the wild) will produce nicer plants in general, not surprisingly, but the distinctions between those available at the nursery aren’t significant. Any Fringe Tree will do.


Chionanathus retusus | Chinese Fringe Tree (above)
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-30′/same
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Upright, spreading and rounded but more dense than C. retusus
LEAF FORM & SHAPE ….. 2″-6″ rounded, sometimes with point
FLOWERS | white fringey long 1″ long petals, lacey, lasts 2 weeks
LEAF COLOR ….. Deciduous | darker green, glossier green
BARK ….. outstanding exfoliating exfoliating

Chionanathus viginicus | Fringe Tree (above)
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 10′ to 15′ /8′ to 12′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Loose, rounded; many horizontal and ascending branches, single or multi-stemmed, small tree or large shrub, fountain-like outline, folliage at end of stems
LEAF FORM & SHAPE ….. 2.5″to 6″ spear shaped, narrow
FLOWERS | white fringey long 2″ long petals, lacey, lasts a month
LEAF COLOR ….. Deciduous | medium green, a bit duller than C. retusus
STEM ….. squarish, brown with prominant lenticils, but basically smooth

ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 7 – 9 | full sun to full shade
GROWTH RATE ….. slow to medium
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. simple, opposite
FALL COLOR | soft yellow
FRUIT | insignificant, small drupes of blue in September

SOIL prefers deep moist, well drained, but very adaptable, in the wild found along streams
C. viginicus native MD, NJ to FL and west to TX
C. retusus native to Asia but well suited to east coast and not invasive
MO Botanical Gardens / Chionanthus viginicus

Dave’s Garden / Chionanthus virginicus

MO Botanical Gardens / Chionanthus retusus

Dave’s Garden / Chionanthus retusus

Flickr / dogwood*design / Chionanthus pics