American Fringe Tree

Chionanthus virginicus

Family: Fringetree

Type: Tree

Other Common Name: Old Man's Beard, Fringe Tree

The American Fringe Tree, a hidden gem in the plant world, boasts unique beauty. Often overshadowed by more common trees, it stands out with its distinctive, fragrant blossoms.

This small, deciduous tree, native to the Eastern United States, thrives in various environmental conditions. It’s a versatile choice for gardeners seeking a low-maintenance yet visually stunning plant. With its fluffy white flowers in spring, the American Fringe Tree adds a whimsical touch to any landscape.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 4a-9a

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Dry to wet

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade


Growth Rate: Slow

Average Height (feet): 15

Average Spread (feet): 15

Average Life Span (years): 60

Form: Round


Flower Color: White

Bloom Season: In late spring

Foliage Color: Green

Leaf Fall Color: Yellow

Foliage Shape: Narrow

Bark Color: Gray

Bark Texture: Rough

Landscaping Your Yard With American Fringe Tree

Incorporating the American Fringe Tree into your yard elevates its aesthetic appeal. Its compact size makes it perfect for small gardens or as an understory tree. Place it near patios or windows to enjoy its sweet fragrance.

This tree works well as a focal point in a yard due to its showy blooms and vibrant fall color. It pairs beautifully with evergreens, providing a pleasing contrast throughout the year.


Suitable Garden Styles

Cottage Garden

The American Fringe Tree shines in a cottage garden setting. Its informal growth habit and profuse blooms complement the relaxed, charming nature of this style. Picture it among a mix of perennials and shrubs, adding a touch of whimsy and romance.

Woodland Garden

In a woodland garden, the American Fringe Tree blends seamlessly with native plants. Its ability to thrive in dappled shade makes it an ideal choice for this naturalistic style. The tree's delicate flowers and lush foliage enhance the tranquil, forest-like ambiance.

Formal Garden

Despite its casual appearance, the American Fringe Tree fits well in formal gardens. Its symmetrical shape and consistent growth pattern lend a sense of order and elegance. When strategically placed, it can serve as a striking feature in a well-manicured landscape.

American Fringe Tree Landscaping Ideas

Create a serene retreat by surrounding the American Fringe Tree with low-growing flowers and groundcovers. This combination highlights the tree’s height and creates a layered effect. For a more dynamic look, pair it with flowering shrubs that bloom at different times. This ensures a continuous display of color and interest throughout the growing season.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, the American Fringe Tree is a sight to behold. Its branches are covered in snowy white, fringe-like flowers that gently sway in the breeze. This floral display, set against the fresh green of new leaves, makes it a springtime showstopper.


During summer, the tree's lush, green canopy provides a cool, shaded retreat. Its leaves turn a deeper green, creating a dense and vibrant appearance. The tree remains a subtle yet attractive feature in the summer landscape.


Fall brings a dramatic change, with leaves turning a stunning golden-yellow. This transformation adds a warm, inviting glow to any garden. The tree's compact size allows it to fit into various fall-themed landscapes, from rustic to modern.


In winter, the American Fringe Tree's structure becomes its main attraction. Its intricate branch patterns, especially when dusted with snow, offer visual interest. The tree's bark, with its subtle texture, adds another layer of winter charm.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Choose a location for the American Fringe Tree that gets ample sunlight and has room for its spread. Ideal spots are those that offer some protection from harsh winds, such as near a fence or alongside other trees.


This tree prefers full sun to partial shade. An area receiving morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect, especially in hotter climates. Adequate light ensures prolific blooming and healthy growth.


American Fringe Trees thrive in well-drained, fertile soil. They are adaptable to various soil types, including clay, loam, or sandy soils, as long as the area doesn't stay waterlogged.


When planting multiple trees, maintain a distance of at least 10-20 feet between them. This spacing accommodates their mature size and ensures proper air circulation and sunlight exposure.

When to Plant

The best time to plant the American Fringe Tree is in early spring or fall. These cooler months allow the tree to establish its root system without the stress of extreme temperatures.

How to Plant

Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and just as deep. Place the tree in the hole, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly. Mulching around the base helps retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Plant Care Tips


Regular watering is crucial, especially during the first growing season. Water deeply once a week, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.


Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can harm the tree.


Prune in late winter or early spring to remove dead or crossing branches. This encourages better air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Spring Care

In spring, monitor water levels as new growth emerges. Increase watering if rainfall is scarce. It's also the ideal time to apply fertilizer.

Summer Care

During summer, maintain consistent watering, especially in periods of drought. Monitor for pests and diseases, treating as necessary.

Fall Care

Reduce watering as the tree prepares for dormancy. Clear fallen leaves to prevent fungal issues and prepare for winter mulching.

Winter Care

Apply a thick layer of mulch to protect the roots from freezing temperatures. Avoid pruning in winter to prevent damage from cold exposure.


How fast does the American Fringe Tree grow?

The growth rate is moderate, typically adding 1-2 feet per year. This rate can vary based on environmental conditions and care.

Is the American Fringe Tree susceptible to any diseases or pests?

It’s generally resistant to most pests and diseases. However, it can occasionally be affected by scale insects or fungal diseases, especially in poor conditions.

Can the American Fringe Tree be grown in containers?

Yes, it can be grown in large containers, but it may limit its growth. Regular pruning and repotting are necessary to maintain its health and size.

Products That Feature This Plant

Light and Radiant

Subscribe to get a free garden blueprint

Get the latest tips, trends, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.
Subscribe today, pick a free garden blueprint you like, and grow with us!

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!

A big thank you for subscribing to the PBN Design newsletter.

We're thrilled to have you join our community. Get ready for exciting updates, insightful content, and more delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay tuned!

Go back

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter!

A big thank you for subscribing to the PBN Design newsletter.

We're thrilled to have you join our community. Get ready for exciting updates, insightful content, and more delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay tuned!

Go back