Chionanthus retusus

Chinese Fringetree




  • native to China, Korea, and Japan
  • hardy to zone 6, and warmer parts of 5

Habit and Form

  • a small deciduous tree or large shrub
  • 15' to 25' tall
  • rounded wide-spreading form
  • medium texture
  • medium growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • opposite leaf arrangement
  • simple, deciduous leaves
  • leaf shape is variable
  • obovate leaf shape, in the north
  • up to 8" long
  • leaf margin can be entire or serrated
  • dark green leaf color
  • thick, leathery texture

Autumn Foliage

  • yellow-green fall color


  • pure white flowers
  • blooms in June
  • flowers are clustered in 3" long panicles
  • flowers borne at terminal stem tips


  • oblong, dark blue drupe
  • 0.5" long
  • ripens in September
  • only occurs on female plant


  • gray-brown bark
  • lenticels


  • full sun to partial shade
  • prefers moist, deep, acidic soils that are well-drained
  • fairly adaptable
  • possibly difficult to transplant
  • requires little maintenance once established

Landscape Use

  • specimen
  • naturalistic plantings
  • shrub border
  • for flowering
  • fruits to attract birds
  • in groupings
  • urban sites due to pollution tolerance


  • propagation is difficult so plant is expensive or hard to locate in commerce
  • most plants are seed propagated so the plant sex is generally unknown for purchased plant
  • slow growing

ID Features

  • stem is square
  • late to leaf out in Spring
  • white fringe-like flowers clustered in long panicles
  • females with blue "olive-like" fruit
  • multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree


  • by seed


  • none

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.