Chionanthus virginicus - Grancy Graybeard

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Butterfly FriendlyDeer ResistantPart ShadeBird Friendly
Grancy Graybeard
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: 12-18ft. Tall x 12-20ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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