Skip to main content

Fringe Benefits: Little Chinese Fringe Tree Makes Lovely Addition to Texas Landscape

Mar 17, 2015 10:23AM, Published by Kevin, Categories: In Print, Home+Garden




Nothing adorns the spring landscape quite so beautifully as flowering trees. Texans have several from which to choose, but they need to add one more to their list: the Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus). This small, ornamental tree makes a graceful addition to the landscape across most of Texas. 

General Description

Native to China, Korea and Japan and a member of the Oleaceae (olive) family, the Chinese fringe tree adapts to USDA hardiness zones 5B to 9B. It forms a multi-trunked tree (or single-trunked, with training) with a rounded, wide-spreading growth habit and reaches a height of about 20 feet and a width of the same. Fringe tree grows slowly, usually only 6 to 10 inches per year.

The genus name, Chionanthus, comes from the Greek word chion meaning “snow” and anthos meaning “flower.” When this tree bursts into bloom in spring, you’ll surely think that snow flurries have swept into your landscape. Compact, terminal clusters (up to 4 inches long) of mildly fragrant, pure-white flowers with fringe-like petals bloom after leaves have emerged and cover the tree for about two weeks. Chinese fringe trees are primarily dioecious, which means male and female flowers are on separate plants. Occasionally, however, male and female flowers may exist on the same plant. Male flowers are slightly showier because of longer petals, but both male and female trees are spectacular when in bloom. Female flowers, if fertilized, give way to clusters of olive-like fruits about half-inch long which ripen to a dark bluish-black in late summer and early fall. These fruits appeal to many kinds of birds and wildlife. Fringe trees are rarely labeled as male or female, so unless they are purchased in bloom or with fruit present, it’s impossible to know which one you are getting. Fortunately, both are beautiful.

Lustrous, leathery leaves about 4 inches long adorn the tree during the growing season. The leaf shape is ovate to elliptic, and the leaves appear opposite each other on the stem. Leaves are bright green above and whitish-green with downy underneath and then turn yellowish-green to brown in the fall. The gray-brown bark is attractive in winter.

Culture

Since the fringe tree does not transplant well, take care to select an appropriate permanent location and use proper planting methods. Although the Chinese fringe tree adapts to many soil types, it prefers moist, deep, well-drained, acidic soils. It grows best in full sun to partial shade, but flowering is best in full sun. An ideal location would have full sun most of the day and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Once established, the Chinese fringe tree has low maintenance needs. Due to a naturally strong branch structure, this tree rarely needs pruning.

 Although insect pests and diseases rarely create problems for the Chinese fringe tree, the tree can be susceptible to mites, scale and borers. Scale can be controlled with horticultural oil sprays. Borers are more likely to attack trees already under stress or that have wounds.

Landscape Use

Plant the Chinese fringe tree in groups or as a single specimen where a small tree is needed, such as near a patio, in a courtyard, in small yards or under power lines. It can also be used in mixed shrub and/or woodland borders, natural gardens and near streams or ponds. As with any white-flowering tree, Chinese fringe tree looks best against a dark green, evergreen background such as a row of Nellie R. Stevens hollies or eastern red cedars. Include a Chinese fringe tree in a wildscape since the fruits attract birds and other wildlife. Finally, a Chinese fringe tree functions well in urban settings due to its tolerance of pollution and different types of soils. 

With its billowy white blossoms, the Chinese fringe tree will definitely lend grace and spring beauty to landscapes across the state. Add this tree to your own yard and let its vernal loveliness delight you!

Steve Huddleston is the senior horticulturist at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and co-author of Easy Gardens for North Central Texas. 


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Mansfield Magazine's free newsletter to get regular updates



Embed this content on your website

Embed


in this issue nature lawn & garden chinese fringe tree botanic garden


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    03/26/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • Rock and Worship Roadshow

    03/26/2017
    06:00PM

    If you’re a fan of award-winning and chart-topping Christian artists such as Steven Curtis Chapma...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    03/27/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • Soup's On!

    03/27/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    In this FREE cooking class from Healthy Living with Pam, you'll learn to make three healthy, deli...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    03/28/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • Reads! Program: Yoga Demystified

    03/28/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Every body is a yoga body! Join us as yoga instructor Carla Henslee discusses the history of yoga...


  • Latin Dance with Loui

    03/28/2017
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    2 free series starting Feb. 28 "Latin Dance with Loui" lets adult participants sample a variet...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    03/29/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    03/30/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • Kennedale Legislative Day - Trip to Austin

    03/30/2017
    06:00AM — 07:00PM

    The Kennedale Area Chamber of Commerce will travel to Austin on March 30, 2017 to meet with sever...


  • Aging Well Expo

    03/30/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    Arlington is committed to the health of its community! This FREE expo is packed with health profe...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    03/30/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Reads! Program: A Taste of India

    03/30/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    Join Chef Adair Smith of Savvy’s Bistro & Mansfield ISD for a culinary tour of India. Participant...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    03/31/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • Spring Season Starts

    03/31/2017
    10:00AM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    03/31/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Bobby Borgia

    03/31/2017
    08:00PM

    Borgia’s performances span the globe, from Asia and Europe, to Las Vegas and Hollywood’s world fa...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    04/01/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • Zoo Run

    04/01/2017
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    It’s time for the 20th annual Zoo Run at the Fort Worth Zoo! Support the zoo’s local and internat...


  • Spring Season Starts

    04/01/2017
    09:30AM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • Spring Health Festival

    04/01/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Title Sponsor - Methodist Mansfield Medical Center FREE activities for all! Health Screenings...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/01/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • This is an hour and a half class that covers the basics of sugar (cutout) cookie decorating. Each...


  • Spotlight on Millipedes!

    04/01/2017
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Do millipedes really have a thousand legs? You can count for yourself at our next Spotlight! Lear...


  • Texas on Tap

    04/01/2017
    05:30PM — 10:00PM

    Join us for a special LAW birthday celebration! We are turning one! Enjoy a special 3-course menu...


  • Reads! Program: Yoga Demystified

    03/28/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Every body is a yoga body! Join us as yoga instructor Carla Henslee discusses the history of yoga...


  • Kennedale Legislative Day - Trip to Austin

    03/30/2017
    06:00AM — 07:00PM

    The Kennedale Area Chamber of Commerce will travel to Austin on March 30, 2017 to meet with sever...


  • Aging Well Expo

    03/30/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    Arlington is committed to the health of its community! This FREE expo is packed with health profe...


  • Reads! Program: A Taste of India

    03/30/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    Join Chef Adair Smith of Savvy’s Bistro & Mansfield ISD for a culinary tour of India. Participant...


  • Bobby Borgia

    03/31/2017
    08:00PM

    Borgia’s performances span the globe, from Asia and Europe, to Las Vegas and Hollywood’s world fa...


  • Spring Health Festival

    04/01/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Title Sponsor - Methodist Mansfield Medical Center FREE activities for all! Health Screenings...


  • Mansfield ISD MultiCultural Festival

    04/04/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Did you know Mansfield ISD has more than 33,000 students, and there are more than 110 languages s...


  • Latin Dance with Loui

    04/04/2017
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    2 free series starting Feb. 28 "Latin Dance with Loui" lets adult participants sample a variet...


 

Image title
Mansfield Area High School Sports

Community Champions