Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard

Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard

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Butterfly FriendlyDeer ResistantPart ShadeBird Friendly
White Fringetree
Chionanthus virginicus

A carefree native, this small tree puts on a heck of a show in late spring with thousands of pendulous, delicately fragrant white flowers covering the tree before the leaves emerge. At the end of bloom season, the green leaf tips accent the snowy blooms for an impressive finale. It's no wonder the Fringetree has been a garden favorite and heritage plant for generations!

The Grancy Graybeard is dioecious, meaning that there are male and female trees. The males are typically showier in bloom due to their longer petals, however, it is the female plants that are bedecked with dark blue fruit in late summer. Birds relish the fleshy fruit and will find it easily, even though the foliage sometimes hides it from view. The best way enjoy the graybeard is to have at least one of each, and to be certain you get a male and female, purchase them in late summer or early fall when fruit will be present on the female plants.


  • A small graceful tree with fragrant flowers
  • Flowers attract butterflies
  • Fruits are eaten by a wide variety of birds and mammals
  • Including: wild turkeys, mockingbirds, blue jays, pileated woodpeckers and cardinals
  • Host plant for the Rustic sphinx
  • Selected as a Plant of Merit by the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Host plant for the Rustic sphinx

Native Range

Chionanthus is found in rich, moist woods and hillsides, moist stream banks, limestone glade margins and rocky bluffs and ledges

Map Credit: The Biota of North America 
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)

Chionanthus is Greek, meaning Snow Flower.



Fringetree is easily grown in average to medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, fertile soils, but tolerates a wide variety, including the red clay of the south. Chionanthus virginicus seldom needs pruning, but benefits from some branch thinning if an open habit is desired. Tolerant of air pollution, it adapts well to urban settings.


Mature Size: 12-20ft. Tall x 12-20ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

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    American Beauties Offer Solution Based Plant Collections to Help you Choose

    Quick Tips for Choosing Plants:

    • Planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, perennials and vines increases biodiversity and gives wildlife a source for food, cover and nesting
    • Choose a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees so birds and other wildlife will always be able to find shelter
    • Plant trees and large shrubs where they will block winter winds from the house and shade it in summer, that will save energy and lower your carbon footprint
    • Try your best to buy plants that were grown locally, your independent garden center will be your best bet
    • Think about ultimate height and width of the plant you choose, make sure it will fit the space you have for it when it's reached maturity
    • Plant nectar plants in groups, to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects more easily
    • Ask for help if you need it. Most garden centers either have a landscape designer on staff or they can give you a reference of a designer that is adept at native plant wildlife gardening. There will be upfront costs but they are small when compared to having to redo a landscape that wasn't what you really wanted

    Our Plant Tags Hold the Secrets to Success

    Choosing the right plants for your garden can seem like a daunting task but we’re here to help. Our horticulturists have spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing our beautiful, American Beauties plant tags to help you be successful. First of all, when you see an American Beauties branded pot at your garden center you can be confident that the plant is native to your area and a responsible choice. 

    When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife. 

    A Special Note About Exposure

    Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.


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    Best Plants for Birds - Double sided printout for download

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