American Fringe Tree: Provides The Dramatic Effect Few Trees Offer

American Fringe Tree: Provides The Dramatic Effect Few Trees Offer

American Fringe Tree

Photo Compliments of jcbondon

Chionanthus virginicus, or more commonly called American fringe tree provides the dramatic effect, few trees offer for the landscape or garden. Gorgeous, lacey white, thread-like flowers are produced in clusters on the branch tips in late spring to early summer. The males produce more flowers, but the females also produce attractive clusters of dark black berries in late summer. American fringe tree can be grown as a multi-stemmed large shrub, or a multi-stemmed small tree.

American fringe tree is a deciduous shrub or small tree with a spreading, rounded habit that typically grows 12 to 20 feet tall. In the wild it can reach a height of 35 feet when it occurs in rich, moist woods and hillsides, moist stream banks, limestone glade margins and rocky bluffs and ledges. The common name refers to the slightly fragrant, spring-blooming flowers which feature airy, terminal, drooping clusters (4 to 6 inches in length) of fringe-like, and creamy white petals. The plant is dioecious (separate male and female plants).  Male flowers are showier than female flowers. Fertilized female flowers give rise to clusters of olive-like fruits which ripen to a dark, bluish black in late summer and are a food source for birds and wildlife. Wide, spear-shaped leaves (8 inches in length) turn a gorgeous yellow in autumn.

How To Make Your American Fringe Tree Thrive

American fringe tree grows best in rich well-drained soil, but will tolerate a sandy location as well. It thrives best and has the most abundant flowers in full sun, but it will tolerate partial shade. If you do choose a full sun location you will have to water regularly. You can easily grow this tree in average, medium, well-drained soil. The preference is moist, fertile soils. Seldom needs pruning. American fringe tree is tolerant of air pollution and adapts well to urban settings.  Please note: This tree is intolerant of prolonged dry conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics


General American Fringe Tree Information

Diseases and Pests

There are no serious disease or pest problems for the American Fringe Tree. There is some susceptibility to scale and borers (particularly when this tree is grown in dry locations).

Garden Uses

This is a wonderful choice when planting in groups or as specimens in lawns, or in shrub or woodland borders. It is also a great choice for native plant gardens, or in plantings near streams, or ponds. It is spectacular in full bloom.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Oleaceae
  • Common Name: American fringe tree
  • Plant Type: Spreading tree
  • Foliage Type: Deciduous
  • Foliage: Great fall color
  • Bloom Time: May to June
  • Bloom Color: Creamy white
  • Plant Height: 10 feet
  • Plant Spread: 15 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 4 to 9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Water Requirements: Medium
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
  • Attracts: Birds
  • Tolerate: Clay soil, air pollution

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