Chionanthus virginicus L.
White Fringetree, Fringe Tree, Snowflower Tree, Flowering Ash, Old Man's Beard, Grandfather Graybeard, Grancy Graybeard
Oleaceae (Olive Family)
Synonym(s): Chionanthus virginicus var. maritimus
USDA Symbol: CHVI3
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Bluish black
Size Class: 12-36 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: FL to e. TX, n. to NJ, s. OH, s. MO & 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
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Rustic sphinx |
Learn more at BAMONA
PropagationSeed Collection: 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: yes
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-1072 Collected 2007-07-28 in Morris County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
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Research LiteratureReslit 243 - Accelerated propagation of Chionanthus virginicus via embryo culture (1999) C. R. Chan and R. D. Marquard
Reslit 153 - Lignans and secoiridoids from the root bark of Chionanthus virginicus L.: Isolation, identification and HPLC analysis (2005) L. Boyer, R. Elias, K. Taoubi, L. Debrauwer, R. Fa...
Reslit 538 - Antioxidant activity of lignans from fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus L.) (2006) I. Gulcin, R. Elias, A. Gepdiremen and L. Boyer
Reslit 539 - Antioxidant secoiridoids from fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus L.) (2009) I. Gulcin, R. Elias, A. Gepdiremen, K. Taoubi and ...
Reslit 573 - Fall transplanting improves establishment of balled and burlapped fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus L) (1996) J. R. Harris, P. Knight and J. Fanelli
Reslit 1086 - Chionanthus (Oleaceae), a new host genus for the powdery mildew Phyllactinia fraxini (Erysiphaceae) (2003) M. Piatek
Reslit 2499 - Foliar dehydration tolerance of twelve deciduous tree species (1998) R. M. Auge, X. G. Duan, J. L. Croker, W. T. Witte ...
Reslit 2620 - Soil preferences for federally-listed plants on the Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands County, Florida (2007) E. S. Menges, C. W. Weekley, S. I. Hamze, R. L. Pi...
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
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From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1998 VOL. 15, NO.6 - Landscaping with Native Trees, Society for Ecological Restoration Conference Rev...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Chionanthus virginicus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Chionanthus virginicus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Chionanthus virginicus
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-11-12
Research By: TWC Staff