White Fringetree
White Fringetree

White Fringetree

Regular price $5.00 Sale

Chionanthus virginicus

Origin: Missourri 

Improvement status: Cultivated wild material

Seeds per packet: ~10


Life cycle: Perennial

Also called "old man's beard," white fringetree is a cold-hardy East Coast native shrub (or small tree) with beautiful clouds of wispy white fragrant flowers. It's truly one of our most beautiful native trees. Though native to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, it's cold-hardy enough for most of the country (down to Zone 4). Flowers in late spring from May to June and is beloved by pollinators. Considered an excellent and manageable landscape tree because it only grows to 12 to 20 feet. 

But it's not just pretty: its dark purple fruits can be pickled as a very good olive substitute (albeit with a larger pit) — not too surprising since it's actually in the same family as olives (Oleaceae). It has a long history of medicinal use as well, used by indigenous people and early European colonizers to treat inflammations of the eye, mouth ulcers, and spongy gums. It's used today for disorders of the liver and gall bladder, among other issues.

These seeds come from Missouri, via Sheffield's Seed Company in Locke, NY.

GROWING NOTES: Seed should be warm stratified for 120 days, then cold stratified for 30-60 days more. Sow seed 3/8" deep. Widely adaptable, its natural habitat is rich moist soils by the edges of streams and in damp woods and scrub.