Fringetree, Chinese

The Chinese fringetree, akin to the white fringetree, can reach up to 25 feet tall.

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Plant type: Deciduous large shrub or small tree
Botanical name: Chionanthus retusus
Hardiness: USDA Zones (5)6 to 8

A beautiful speciman akin to the white fringetree except this Chinese native blooms at the end of new shoots. Gray-brown exfoliating bark is another ornamental asset. Dark-blue bloomy berries ripen in September and October and are appreciated by birds; only female plants bear fruit. Two types of Chinese fringetree may be found in the marketplace--one tends to be a tree form 20 to 25 feet tall with a wide canopy and dull, dark green leaves. The other is a 15-foot oval-rounded shrub whose leaves are dark green but more lustrous. Fringetree leaves tend to hang on till late fall, turning yellow.

Culture: The Chinese fringetree adapts to a wide variety of soil. Full sun to part shade.

How to use it: A lovely tree that deserves wider use. Foliage, bark, berries and flowers are all ornamental. Since male plants have showier flowers, and only the females have berries, the gardener who wants to have the best of both worlds would probably be well advised to have one of each. Use the Chinese fringetree wherever its mult-season interest can be appreciated.

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