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Native fringetree

A friend’s recent inquiry about the native white fringetree sent me searching my past columns index to see when I had last written about this lovely spring ornamental. To my surprise, although I had included fringetree in several columns about various small native trees, I did not locate a column dedicated exclusively to this personal favorite.

White fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) is an eastern United States native. It is also called Old-man’s beard or Grancy greybeard. In translation, Chionanthus means “snow flower,” a far more attractive name for this pretty tree with its display of panicles of 4 to 8 inch long creamy white, delicately scented petals in April and May. C. virginicus is a member of the Olive family.

Native fringetree can grow to a height of 10 to 20 feet with a spread of 12 to 20 feet. It grows slowly at 4 to 8 inches a year, but under ideal light, soil, and drainage conditions, it can grow as much as 12 inches annually and reach a mature height of 30 feet....

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