Weekly “What is it?”: Fringetree

A fringetree in full bloom is beautifully eye-catching! Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

We have an incredibly showy tree making a dramatic splash in our demonstration garden right now. The fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) is a native to the eastern and southeastern part of the United States. Its genus name, Chionanthus, comes from the Greek “chion” for snow, and “anthos” for flower—snow-flower is not a bad description, as the tree seems covered in white when in bloom. Also known as the Old Man’s Beard or Grancy Graybeard, the tree’s copious white flowers could also be described as having a hairy look. This time of year, in full bloom, fringetrees are hard to miss—between the delicate flowers and the sweet scent, this little tree is an eye-catcher.

The long, delicate petals of the fringetree. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Fringetrees are perfect understory trees, typically reaching mature height at 12-20’ and thriving in both full and partial sun. Besides the dazzling flower display, in the late summer/early fall, they’ll produce ½” long bluish black fruit that birds and other wildlife are fond of. As the seasons change and fall arrives, their leaves may turn a creamy yellow before dropping when in cooler climates, but often just brown and drop in the south. They are found in the wild both in upland habitats and stream banks and grow well in moist soils.


Posted: April 3, 2024

Category: HOME LANDSCAPES, Natural Resources
Tags: Garden Design, Native Plants, Weekly What Is It

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