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Chionanthus virginicus L.
White fringetree, Fringe tree, Grancy Graybeard
Synonym(s): Chionanthus virginicus var. maritimus
USDA Symbol: CHVI3
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Bluish black Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WV Native Distribution: FL
to e. TX,
n. to NJ,
& OK; naturalized northward Native Habitat:
Damp woods; thickets; bluffs
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Loose, moist, sandy soils.
BenefitUse 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
Collect from July to September when fruit
has turned purple. Clean seeds from the pulp and keep in cold moist storage up to two years. Seed Treatment:
Double-stratification: Expose seeds to a period of warm (68 degrees), moist stratification for 2-3 months, during which the radicle will emerge. Follow this treatment with cool (41 degrees), moist stratification for another 2-3 months. Commercially Avail:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
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National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-1072
Collected 2007-07-28 in Mossis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Record Last Modified: 2013-10-24
Research By: TWC Staff