Skip to main content

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

Mar 17, 2015 10:23AM ● Published by Kevin

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
Home+Garden, In Print in this issue nature lawn & garden chinese fringe tree botanic garden
  • Holiday Grease Roundup

    12/14/2017
    08:00AM

    Don't pour your holiday grease down the drain—round it up and recycle it for free instead! Hol...


  • Photos with Santa at Traders Village

    12/14/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Santa photos at Traders Village start on November 25th. Kids of all ages can have their photo tak...


  • Shop for handcrafted finds and support the local artisans responsible for them. Each local artisa...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/14/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/14/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/14/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/14/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/14/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Prairie Lights 2017

    12/14/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Prairie Lights is the state's premier holiday drive-through park featuring more than 5 million li...


  • Cirque Du Soleil Varekai

    12/14/2017
    07:30PM

    After 15 years of performing around the world and thrilling more than 11 million people, Varekai ...


  • Holiday Grease Roundup

    12/16/2017
    08:00AM

    Don't pour your holiday grease down the drain—round it up and recycle it for free instead! Hol...


  • Winter Chemistry (5Y+)

    12/16/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    The days are getting shorter, and the weather is getting colder. No snow in Texas? No problem...


  • Gingerbread Workshop Extravaganza

    12/16/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    It’s that time of year! Lights are being strung, stockings are being hung and the creation of con...


  • Breakfast with Santa at Four Seasons

    12/16/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    The jolly ol' elf joins Four Seasons Dallas for breakfast and holiday crafts. Kids, bring your C...


  • Photos with Santa at Traders Village

    12/16/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Santa photos at Traders Village start on November 25th. Kids of all ages can have their photo tak...


  • Brunch Time!

    12/16/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Watch our resident critters enjoy their Brunch every Saturday at 10am! Our arachnids and amphibia...


  • Painting in the Park

    12/16/2017
    10:30AM — 12:00PM

    Join us for a nature-themed painting class at Oliver Nature Park. An artist will guide you step-b...


  • Shop for handcrafted finds and support the local artisans responsible for them. Each local artisa...


  • Invasive Species (16y+)

    12/16/2017
    12:30PM — 01:30PM

    Plants and animals that are not native to an area can spell trouble for the ecosystem. What a...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/16/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/16/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • The Nutcracker 2017

    12/16/2017
    02:00PM

    Join the Art Ballet Academy on a magical trip to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy, waltzing snowfl...


  • The Mansfield Public Library presents the Dallas Puppet Theater featuring lively, hand-crafted ma...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/16/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/16/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/16/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • The Nutcracker 2017

    12/16/2017
    06:00PM

    Join the Art Ballet Academy on a magical trip to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy, waltzing snowfl...


  • Prairie Lights 2017

    12/16/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Prairie Lights is the state's premier holiday drive-through park featuring more than 5 million li...


  • Winter Solstice Celebration - a Free Event

    12/16/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    Entertainment highlights the Winter Solstice Event presented by the Labyrinth Walk Coffee. Admiss...


  • There will be live music from Scott Welmaker and Hambone Radio, succulent BBQ from Big D BBQ, dri...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/16/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Cirque Du Soleil Varekai

    12/16/2017
    07:30PM

    After 15 years of performing around the world and thrilling more than 11 million people, Varekai ...


  • Feel the excitement as the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra celebrates a Holiday in Vienna! Joined ...


  • Holiday Grease Roundup

    12/17/2017
    08:00AM

    Don't pour your holiday grease down the drain—round it up and recycle it for free instead! Hol...


  • Photos with Santa at Traders Village

    12/17/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Santa photos at Traders Village start on November 25th. Kids of all ages can have their photo tak...


  • Gingerbread Workshop Extravaganza

    12/17/2017
    11:00AM — 05:00PM

    It’s that time of year! Lights are being strung, stockings are being hung and the creation of con...


  • Shop for handcrafted finds and support the local artisans responsible for them. Each local artisa...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/17/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/17/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/17/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/17/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/17/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Prairie Lights 2017

    12/17/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Prairie Lights is the state's premier holiday drive-through park featuring more than 5 million li...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/17/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Cirque Du Soleil Varekai

    12/17/2017
    07:30PM

    After 15 years of performing around the world and thrilling more than 11 million people, Varekai ...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    12/18/2017
    12:00AM

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


  • Mansfield Sunrise Toastmasters

    12/18/2017
    07:00AM — 08:00AM

    Want to be better at negotiating your salary with your boss? Networking at business functions? Pi...


  • Holiday Grease Roundup

    12/18/2017
    08:00AM

    Don't pour your holiday grease down the drain—round it up and recycle it for free instead! Hol...


  • Photos with Santa at Traders Village

    12/18/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Santa photos at Traders Village start on November 25th. Kids of all ages can have their photo tak...


  • Shop for handcrafted finds and support the local artisans responsible for them. Each local artisa...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/18/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/18/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/18/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/18/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/18/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Prairie Lights 2017

    12/18/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Prairie Lights is the state's premier holiday drive-through park featuring more than 5 million li...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/18/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Holiday Grease Roundup

    12/19/2017
    08:00AM

    Don't pour your holiday grease down the drain—round it up and recycle it for free instead! Hol...


  • Photos with Santa at Traders Village

    12/19/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Santa photos at Traders Village start on November 25th. Kids of all ages can have their photo tak...


  • Shop for handcrafted finds and support the local artisans responsible for them. Each local artisa...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/19/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/19/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/19/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/19/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/19/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Prairie Lights 2017

    12/19/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Prairie Lights is the state's premier holiday drive-through park featuring more than 5 million li...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/19/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Holiday Grease Roundup

    12/20/2017
    08:00AM

    Don't pour your holiday grease down the drain—round it up and recycle it for free instead! Hol...


  • Photos with Santa at Traders Village

    12/20/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Santa photos at Traders Village start on November 25th. Kids of all ages can have their photo tak...


  • Shop for handcrafted finds and support the local artisans responsible for them. Each local artisa...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/20/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/20/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Prairie Lights 2017

    12/20/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Prairie Lights is the state's premier holiday drive-through park featuring more than 5 million li...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/20/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


 

Image title
Mansfield Area High School Sports

Community Champions