ShadyGardens Blog

April 20, 2008

American Fringe Tree Chionanthus Virginicus

Whether you know it as American Fringe Tree, Old Man’s Beard, Grancy Gray Beard, or the common name given it by the British, Grandsir Graybeard (which is probably why some of us call it ‘Grancy’ Graybeard), Chionanthus Virginicus is one of the loveliest of all American native trees. Just looking at it takes my breath away. Easy to grow but difficult to find in local nurseries, Grancy Graybeard should be in every garden, native or not. This tree is drought tolerant and blooms in early spring. Blooms last up to a month, but the beauty lasts all season. Rich green elongated leaves stay beautiful all summer and are not bothered by pests. Even during winter when naked, the American Fringe is still very interesting. You can see for yourself the lovely ‘puffy’ white cloud-like blooms on the trees I saw as I passed through Shawmut, Alabama, in early April, 2008. As you can see, Chionanthus Virginicus grows well in full sun, but usually occurs naturally at the edge of woodlands. A very versatile plant, Grancy Graybeard is ideal for any garden. For more information on where to find this delightful tree, visit

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