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Chinese Fringetree

Chinese Fringetree

Chinese Fringetree (Chionanthus retusus)

Chinese Fringetree
Chionanthus retusus
(kye-oh-NAN-thus re-TOO-sus)

Chinese Fringetree, Fringe Tree


An ornamental species from China.  Unlike the native fringetree, C. virginicus, which prefers acid soils, the Chinese fringetree is more adaptable to the alkaline soils of the Brazos Valley.

Plant habit
Large, multi-stemmed shrub or small to medium sized tree, Drooping growth habit; may require pruning and/or limbing up as it matures.

Landscape use
Outstanding ornamental tree.  Plant in a location where fragrance and blooms can be appreciated.

Average mature size
15-20’ tall x 10-15’ wide

Growth rate
Slow, but accelerates with regular water and fertilizer

Sun exposure
Part sun/shade

Soil requirements
Prefers acid to neutral pH soils, but adapts to alkaline soils

Water requirements
Prefers well-drained soils, but tolerates seasonally soggy soil.  Tolerates moderate drought, but will require additional water if drought persists.

Heat tolerance

Deciduous, glossy, dark green leaves, unremarkable fall color

Monoecious, both male and female trees flower.  Male trees typically have larger, showier blossoms.  5”-10” panicles of long petaled, white flowers, Fragrant, Blooming period Spring, typically for two to three weeks

Fruit characteristics
Female trees produce fruit attractive to birds

Pests and disease
None serious,

Messy leaf and twig drop may become a maintenance issue

“It is hard to think of a more beautiful, small 20 foot-tall tree than the Chinese fringetree when it is in full bloom.” – Edward Gilman, U.S. Forest Service Fact Sheet ST160