Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Fringe Tree, Old Man's Beard, Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Chionanthus (kye-oh-NAN-thus) (Info)
Species: virginicus (vir-JIN-ih-kus) (Info)

Synonym:Chionanthus virginicus var. maritimus

16 vendors have this plant for sale.

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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There are a total of 39 photos.
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9 positives
6 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Feb 25, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Very beautiful when in flower.

This is among the latest shrubs to emerge from dormancy---I rarely see signs of life before June (Boston Z6a). The fleecy white flowers emerge before the foliage and cover the plant.

The habit is generally awkward. I've read that there are forms that are more upright and tree-like than shrub-like, but I have yet to see a mature one. All the mature plants I've seen have been awkwardly sprawling, as if unable to support themselves. Twigs are thick and coarse, as is the foliage.

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 7, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I first saw this plant as a large shrub in part-shade at Cantigni War Museum Park in Wheaton, IL, that has slightly alkaline soil on the grounds, sometimes very alkaline. My biggest customer in se PA has two tree forms in slightly acid soil. Beautiful, clean, neat, but informal plant with handsome foliage, good yellow fall color, gray sort of smooth bark, and drooping feathery white flowers, slightly fragrant, in late May - early June that bloom heavier one year and lighter the next. usually dioecious in that there are separate male and female plants, but some can be mixed with both genders somewhat. The female plant has slightly smaller flowers, but may produce black olive-like drupes that are relished by birds. Should be planted more; unknown species to most homeowners; grown by larger or native plant nurseries.

Neutral Moefureal On Mar 27, 2013, Moefureal from Dalton, GA wrote:

Help! This is more of a request for assistance than a rating of this plant... My mom had one of these beautiful trees on her lot/yard line and her neighbor decided it was his side of the line and cut it down to the ground. Does anybody know if we can salvage the tree from it's roots that are still left in the ground? Any ideas or help are greatly appreciated!

Neutral michiganmark On May 1, 2012, michiganmark from Southfield, MI wrote:

Does anyone know where I can buy a fringe tree in Metro Detroit? A white fringe tree would be perfect I think.

Positive hishelpmate On Mar 18, 2011, hishelpmate from Perry, FL (Zone 8a) wrote:

When we first bought our house in Jan 2004, I noticed a small 'bush' about 3' high at the edge of our yard. While walking around our neighborhood I noticed a beautiful fringe tree in full bloom. I decided that I wanted one so I walked past the nursery on our block to find out it's name.
I told my husband that I wanted to pull up 'the bush' the next spring to plant a fringe tree. Two days before the planned removal, the Lord impressed upon me to take another look at the bush whose demise was imminent. I was pleasantly shocked to find several small fringed, white flowers on the few branches!!! I had a fringe tree in my yard for a year and was about to replace it with another one!
Now 7 years later it is about 7.5' tall and about 5' wide. I have the female tree that produces the bluish-black grape sized fruit while my neighbor across the street has the male. Her tree remains showy longer but does not fruit, so I get the birds :-)
I absolutely LOVE my fringe tree and visit it each morning in the early spring so that I can witness the first bloom's arrival.
I will try to post a photo once it is in full bloom in a month or so.

Positive mary1948 On Jul 5, 2010, mary1948 from Shawnee Mission, KS wrote:

I have this small tree/shrub in my front yard and yes, it is a slow grower but what a beauty in bloom! The fragrance is very subtle and quite captivating. I have never had mine seed but it does bloom quite fully. How do I know if it is a female or male as I read to have seeds I need one of each?

Positive codyala On Apr 13, 2008, codyala from Fairhope, AL wrote:

I planted two sticks (3feet high) in1982 in our front yard. One was lost in hurricaine Hugo, but the remaining tree is about 20 feet high, talk about slow growing! but It's beautiful, I have three neighbors that have them now. We have moved to a downsized now and I would like to start another, I just read how to propagate it, hope I have enough time in my life left to see one grown, This stock came from Pensacola, Fl. But the family nursery has closed.

Positive Farmerdill On Apr 18, 2007, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Known locally as GRANDDADDY'S
GREYBEARD it is a quite attractive wild shrub, that blooms just after the Azaleas. Great spring color in the woods, and a decent yard shrub.

Neutral 1cros3nails4gvn On Mar 31, 2007, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is commonly seen growing as a smaller shrub in the understory of the piedmont and sandhills in S.C.'s midlands. I has a few seedlings from one that we used as a specimen at our old house in Lexington, S.C. they came up in a pot that we kept under the bush. We used it to bring part of our Confederate Jasmine when we moved and the along with a purple heart came up in the pot.

Neutral violabird On May 17, 2006, violabird from Barnesville, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I like it, but so do the deer. As soon as it bloomed, they ate all the foilage and blooms, luckily it's resprouting, but too late to enjoy it.

Positive dogbane On Nov 12, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Beutiful when in bloom, an excellant understory tree in the southern part of its range.

Neutral lupinelover On Jan 11, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Plants are either male or female; both are needed to produce fruit (dark blue grape-like) with viable seeds. The male flower-heads are the showier.

Positive Terry On Aug 31, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

My neighbor has one, and the smell is wonderful! Hoping to get some cuttings and get a few plants started for myself.

Positive FL_Gator On Aug 29, 2002, FL_Gator from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have grown this plant in several different places. It will grow on extremely poor soil, fertile silt loams, and even in Florida sand. The blooms are highly fragrant.

Neutral mystic On Sep 3, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a large shrub or small tree, reaching a height of 20 feet or so, with one or few short trunks and a rounded crown. In the wild, it may reach 25 to 30 feet with an equal spread.

It has opposite, deciduous, elliptical dark green glossy leaves. In late spring, its showy fringe-like blooms cascade downward like the white beard of a wise old man. The black fleshy egg shaped fruit mature in late summer.

Fringetree is attractive to a variety of insects while in bloom, and to birds and small mammals when fruiting. A popular ornamental due to its delicate, fragrant white flowers. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Fringetree does well as an "understory tree", thriving in the filtered shade of larger canopy trees.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Centre, Alabama
Fairhope, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Springville, Alabama
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Sitka, Alaska
Conway, Arkansas (2 reports)
Morrilton, Arkansas
Oakland, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Barbara, California
Fort Collins, Colorado
Boca Raton, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Perry, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Valparaiso, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia (2 reports)
Augusta, Georgia
Barnesville, Georgia
Cornelia, Georgia
Dallas, Georgia
Dalton, Georgia
Jesup, Georgia
Saint Charles, Illinois
Wheaton, Illinois
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Lansing, Kansas
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Nottingham, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Southfield, Michigan
Chaska, Minnesota
Blue Mountain, Mississippi
Carriere, Mississippi (2 reports)
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Norfolk, Nebraska
Stirling, New Jersey
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Averill Park, New York
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Mebane, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
New Bern, North Carolina
Washington, North Carolina
Akron, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Mill City, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Bluffton, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Islandton, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Ridgeville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Bluff City, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Broaddus, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
Orem, Utah
Disputanta, Virginia
Nellysford, Virginia
Staunton, Virginia
Urbanna, Virginia
Battle Ground, Washington
Cambridge, Wisconsin

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