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White Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Chionanthus angustifolius
  • Ligustrum cotinifolium
Phonetic Spelling
kee-oh-NAN-thus ver-JIN-ih-kus
Description

Fringetree is a deciduous tree that grows up to 30 feet tall, but smaller through most of its range. The leaves are opposite with a smooth margin. The bark is scaly with dark brown ridges and red furrows. In late spring, fragrant, white flowers mature hanging from 4- to 8-inch stalks. The small tree produces a 3/4-inch, dark blue drupe that matures in late summer. Does not grow well on acid soils.

Fringetrees are rarely available labeled as male or female, so unless they are purchased in bloom or with fruit present, it is impossible to know which one you are getting. Fortunately, both are beautiful. They are best transplanted when young.   

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  This plant has some susceptibility to scale and borers (particularly when grown in dry locations).

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#fruit#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#birds#small tree#songbirds#fragrant flowers#specimen#shrub#wildlife plant#native tree#tree#playground#showy fruits#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#food source summer#food source fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#fruit#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#birds#small tree#songbirds#fragrant flowers#specimen#shrub#wildlife plant#native tree#tree#playground#showy fruits#food source#cpp#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#food source summer#food source fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Chionanthus
    Species:
    virginicus
    Family:
    Oleaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used this plant for disinfectant and dermatological aid.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    Throughout East, South East (Texas to NY and Massachusetts).
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are eaten by songbirds and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire and moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 12 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 12 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Oval
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Description:
    Fertilized perfect or female flowers give way to clusters of olive-like fruits which ripen to a dark, bluish black in late summer and are a food source for birds and wildlife.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    The Fringetree has dioecious (separate male and female plants), but also may have perfect flowers on each plant. These are delicately fragrant paniculate flowers produced on previous years growth; ivory to white clusters 6 to 8 in. long. The male flowers are showier than female flowers due to longer petals, however, both male and female trees are striking in bloom.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The fringetree has wide, spear-shaped leaves (to 8" long) that turn yellow in autumn. The 3-8 in. opposite, simple leaves, glabrous above and pubescent underside, are not especially showy.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is scaly with dark brown ridges and red furrows.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire
    Pollution
    Urban Conditions