The upright oval to rounded form of fringe tree adds dark green color in summer, bright white flowers in spring. The pure white, slightly fragrant flowers hang in long, spectacular panicles which appear to cover the tree with cotton for two weeks. As with other white flowered trees, they look best when viewed against a dark background.
Pronunciation: kye-oh-NANTH-us ver-JIN-ih-kuss
Common name(s): fringetree, old-man's-beard
USDA hardiness zones: 3 through 9
Origin: native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; wide tree lawns; medium-sized tree lawns; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; near a deck or patio; narrow tree lawns; specimen; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); residential street tree
"Fringe tree is an apt moniker for this delightful small flowering tree, whose white blossoms do resemble a fanciful white fringe suspended in the spring sunlight." - Rick Darke, The American Woodland Garden
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: oblong; obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate; reticulate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches; 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: not showy
Trunk and Branches:
Pruning requirement: needs little pruning to develop a strong structure
Current year twig color: brown; green; gray
Current year twig thickness: medium; thick
Soil tolerances: clay; loam; sand; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
The plant eventually grows 20 to 30 feet tall in the woods, spreads to 15 feet, and tolerates city conditions well. But trees are more commonly seen 10 to 15 feet tall in landscapes where they are grown in the open. It forms as a multi-stemmed round ball if left unpruned but can be trained into a small tree with lower branches removed. Although reportedly difficult to transplant, Fringetree can be successfully moved quite easily with proper care. Could be used beneath power lines where no pruning would be required.
Fringetree looks best in a sunny spot sheltered from wind. The foliage appears more attractive when grown with several hours of shade but the tree blooms best in full sun. Probably best overall with some afternoon shade. A North American native commonly found in upland woods and stream banks throughout most of the South, Fringetree prefers moist, acid soil and will gladly grow in even wet soils. It grows very slowly, usually 6 to 10 inches per year, but can grow a foot per year if given rich, moist soil and plenty of fertilizer. There is only one flush of growth each year.