Content Detail

Chinese fringetree is a beautiful multi-stemmed shrub to small tree, very similar in appearance to our native species (Chionanthus virginicus) with exfoliating, gray-brown bark. In mid-spring, erect clusters of fragrant, white flowers are quite showy. Female plants produce dark purple fruits in late summer. The dark green, leathery leaves turn a soft yellow in fall.

  • Family (English) Olive
  • Family (botanic) Oleaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Under utility lines
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 15-25 feet
  • Mature width 15-25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest late spring, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Birds, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to Japan, Korea, and China.

Bark color and texture:

The gray-brown bark exfoliates into strips.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, opposite, narrow to elliptical leaves are 3 to 8 inches long with entire margins. It has lustrous medium green leaves with a paler underside and yellow fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Fragrant, white flowers are borne in upright clusters at the end of branches in late spring. Male and female flowers are on separate plants (dioecious).

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Only female plants bear ½ inch long, bluish fruit, which ripens in September.

Plant care:

Grows in full sun to light shade. Prefers moist, slightly acidic soils and is very drought sensitive. It does benefit from a layer of mulch to conserve moisture. Rarely needs pruning.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No common serious problems.



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