Chionanthus virginicus

Chionanthus virginicus is also known as White Fringetree, Fringe Tree, Snowflower Tree, Flowering Ash, Old Man’s Beard, Grandfather Graybeard, Grancy Graybeard.

The primary attraction of this 15-30 ft, deciduous tree or shrub is the drooping clusters of fragrant, white blossoms. Dark-blue, grape-like clusters of fruits are produced from female blossoms. The numerous delicate, fragrant, white-to-greenish-white flowers are composed of 4-6 strap-shaped petals 1 inch long by 1/16 inch wide. They hang in showy, branched clusters 4-6 inches long. Flowers open before or with the first leaves.

Other features are dark-green, glossy foliage and a pale-gray trunk with bands of white. Leaves are deciduous, opposite, 4-8 inches long and 1/4 inch wide; the petiole is 1 inch long. Fall color is usually not significant. Shrub or small tree with short trunk, narrow, oblong crown, and showy masses of fragrant, lacy, white flowers.

One of the last trees to bear new leaves in spring, it appears dead until the leaves and flowers appear. The genus name Chionanthus, meaning “snow” and “flower,” describes the blossoms.


SPECS: Native Name: Algonquin; Genus: Chionanthus ; Species: Virginicus; Plant Type: Tree; Life Cycle: Perennial; Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade; Soil Moisture: Medium Wet, Well Drained; Height: 15′ — 30′; Spread: 12′; Plant Spacing: 20′ — 25′; Bloom Time: April — June; Bloom Color: White; USDA Zone: 4 — 9; Attracts: Butterflies, Moths; Tolerant: Deer, Drought; Plant Community: Fringe tree is an excellent companion to Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica), Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens), scentless mock-orange (Philadelphus inodorus), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), northern leatherflower (Clematis viorna), showy skullcap (Scutellaria serrata), pinxterbloom azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides) and Small’s beardtongue (Penstemon smallii). ;