Common Name: fringe tree, old man's beard

Scientific Name: 
Genus: Chionanthus
Species: C. virginicum

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 12 to 20 ft
Width: 12 to 20 ft

Common characteristics:

Fringe trees normally display an irregularly rounded crown, supported either by a short single stem or a multi-stemmed trunk. The 3 to 8 inch elliptic to oblong leaves are a thick, waxy green, and are arranged oppositely on the twig. They do not emerge until late in the spring and turn a dull yellow color before dropping in the fall. Its spring flowers have fringe-like, white petals that give this tree its name. A fringe tree is a spectacular sight when it is in full bloom. It is easy to manage and generally requires little to no pruning. In the wild, it is often found growing on stream banks or in moist forests or hillsides.

Where it grows:

The fringe tree grows best in moist, well-drained fertile soil and in full sun to part shade. They will tolerate clay soils and road salts. Tolerant of air pollution and adapts well to urban settings.

How it’s used:

Commonly used as an ornamental species. The tree grows in groups or as specimens in lawns or in shrub woodland borders. Also may be used in native plant gardens or near streams or ponds. 

Ecosystem services:

Birds may utilize it for shelter. 

Where it is native to:

Native to the eastern United States. 


No serious known problems. Tolerant to black walnut toxicity. 


Missouri Botanical Garden

The Morton Arboretum