Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Chionanthus virginicus

White fringetree, Fringe tree, Snowflower tree, Flowering ash, Old man's beard, Grandfather graybeard, Grancy graybeard

Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Chionanthus virginicus (White fringetree)
Makin, Julie
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 46 strap-shaped petals 1 inch long by 1/16 inch wide. They hang in showy, branched clusters 46 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, 48 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.

Image Gallery:

43 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Bluish black
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , KY , LA , MD , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV , DC
Native Distribution: FL to e. TX, n. to NJ, s. OH, s. MO & OK; naturalized northward
Native Habitat: Damp woods; thickets; bluffs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Loose, moist, sandy soils.


Use Wildlife: Berries are attractive to wildlife. Twigs and foliage are browsed by many animals. (The plant is only mildly tolerant of this browsing.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Chionanthus virginicus is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Rustic sphinx
(Manduca rustica)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-11-12