The Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus) is a strikingly beautiful addition to the Gulf Coast landscape. For those of you who are still unfamiliar, it is a small, multi-stemmed tree that is covered with full, upright panicles of very fine strap-like flowers when in bloom. “Wow!” is what you’ll say about the fragrant blooms. In my opinion, it’s like a subtle jasmine flower, blended with vanilla.
After the blooming season is over, it has forest green foliage throughout the season. The glossy narrow leaves turn yellow in fall. As an added bonus, it produces navy-blue berries that persist from early to late fall. The peeling gray bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape for winter value. All-in all, it is a wonderful landscape accent.
This is about as low maintenance as a flowering tree gets, because it doesn’t require lots of fertilizer and it has no significant disease or insect pressures
Chinese Fringe Tree will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 20 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 2 feet from the ground and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.
This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH but grows best in rich soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. It survived Winter Storm Uri, proving its freeze tolerance and suitability to our climate.