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Native alternative(s) for Chionanthus retusus:
Chionanthus virginicus Chionanthus virginicus
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Malus hybrids Malus hybrid
Crataegus nitida Form in bloom
Chionanthus virginicus Chionanthus virginicus

Chinese Fringe Tree Chionanthus retusus

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Chionanthus chinensis
  • Chionanthus coreanus
Phonetic Spelling
kee-oh-NAN-thus re-TOO-sus
Description

What kind of plant is as tough as nails, has gorgeous foliage, snow-white flowers, and exfoliating bark? It’s the Chinese fringetree. Native to Korea, China, and Japan, this easy-to-grow deciduous tree displays a showy, white, clustered bloom that appears like fringe each spring.

Sometimes grown as a multi-stemmed large shrub, Chinese fringetree can develop into a modest-sized tree, ranging in height from 18 to 35 feet. Transplant this Asian native into a location with full sun or partial shade. The lustrous, leathery foliage looks best when grown in some light shade (dappled sunlight), while the flowering is heaviest when planted in full sun. This tree tends to flower better in alternate years.  The only real downside is that is it frequently damaged by deer.

The Chinese fringetree is an excellent choice anywhere a small tree is needed. It is well suited for most Carolina landscapes, due to its adaptability to our varied soil types. Use as a specimen tree or in a mixed shrub border. Like many white-flowered plants, the fringetree looks especially pretty transplanted in front of a dark evergreen backdrop.

Insect Disease and other Pest Problems: Frequently damaged by deer.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Serrulatus'
  • 'Tokyo Tower'
    Columnar habit/ vertical feature plant
Tags:
#fragrant#white#sun#deciduous#birds#small tree#full sun#partial shade#fragrant flowers#small spaces#blue#spring#specimen#white flowers#light shade#shrub#wildlife plant#tree#low maintenance#spring flowers#show stopper#playground#cpp#large shrub#dappled sunlight#fragrant flower#children's garden#borders
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Serrulatus'
  • 'Tokyo Tower'
    Columnar habit/ vertical feature plant
Tags:
#fragrant#white#sun#deciduous#birds#small tree#full sun#partial shade#fragrant flowers#small spaces#blue#spring#specimen#white flowers#light shade#shrub#wildlife plant#tree#low maintenance#spring flowers#show stopper#playground#cpp#large shrub#dappled sunlight#fragrant flower#children's garden#borders
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Chionanthus
    Species:
    retusus
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & S. China, Taiwan, S. Korea, Japan
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts birds
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    range of soil types
    Dimensions:
    Height: 18 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Multi-trunked
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    There are 0.5-in. dark blue fruit on female trees.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    This plant has snow white, fragrant flowers in panicles at ends of shoots. This tree displays a showy, white, clustered bloom that appear like fringe each spring.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are 3-8 in. opposite, leathery, and lustrous.
  • Bark:
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    exfoliating bark
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds