Chionanthus virginicus (White Fringetree, Old Man’s Beard)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

An appealing addition to the landscape, this native is rare in Pennsylvania and historical in Delaware’s Piedmont, but frequent to common elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Virginia Native Plant Society named White Fringetree as Wildflower of the Year in 1997. Be aware though, it also appeals to deer!

Print Version (Legal Size): Chionanthus virginicus ([White] Fringetree, Old Man’s Beard)

Tree Chionanthus virginicus, White Fringetree, Old Man's Beard Height: 20–35 feet Spread: 20–35 feet Bloom Color: Creamy White Characteristics Slow-growing, deciduous small tree/large shrub; usually multi-stemmed Dioecious: separate male and female plants; plant sex may not be known for purchased plants New leaves emerge late spring, often with flowers White, fragrant, flower clusters from mid-May to early June; male blossoms are bigger in size Bluish-black drupes on female plants in late summer; male plant needed nearby for fruit to set Fall foliage ranges from an attractive yellow to more mundane yellow-green or yellow-brown Attributes Tolerates clay soil, air pollution; dislikes drought No serious pests or diseases; deer occasionally-to- frequently severely damage (may need protection) Therapeutic uses Attracts bees to flowers; birds and mammals to fruit; larval host to several Sphinx moths Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Average, well-drained Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Moist Seldom needs pruning Use as specimen, in groups or woodland gardens Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–9 Excellent Replacement for Ailanthus altissima - Tree of Heaven Albizia julibrissin - Mimosa / Silk Tree Eleagnus angustifolia - Russian Olive Koelreuteria paniculata - Golden Raintree Melia azedarach - Chinaberry Tree Pyrus calleryana - Bradford Pear
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets