Chinese Fringe Tree

Chinese Fringe Tree – Chionanthus retusus

Chinese fringe tree

Chinese Fringe Tree at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

One of the finest spring bloomers is the Chinese fringetree, Chionanthus retusus, a large form considered by many to be one of the most beautiful ornamental flowering trees. Produced in loose, terminal 4-inch long panicles, the snow white, fragrant flowers appear just as the dogwoods are finishing their own spring show, and persist for 2-3 weeks. [2]

Grows naturally as a multi-stemmed tree, but can be trained as a single-trunked specimen  to 25 feet in height and even larger spread.  Female plants develop small purple fruit which are highly prized by birds and other wildlife.

Fringe trees are notoriously slow growing, seldom making more than 10 inches a year, but can be accelerated somewhat if grown in soil rich in organic nutrients and watered regularly. Blooms best in full sun, but can also benefit from several hours of shade every day.

fringe tree range map

Chinese fringe tree range

Chinese Fringe Tree Flowers and Foliage


  1. Chinese Fringetree, photographed at Atlanta Botanical Garden by Bruce Marlin
  2. Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson, USDA Forest Service, “Chinese Fringetree

Family Oleaceae – Olive, Ash, Lilac and Privet
The olive family contains 25 genera and over 500 species of flowering plants. Most species are native to temperate and tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The best known of this family are olive, ash, privet, lilac, and Forsythia.
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