Chionanthus virginicus L. - Fringe Tree

Family - Oleaceae

Stems - Erect, multiple or single from base, to 10m, branching, woody. Twigs glabrous.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate. Petiole pubescent, to 2cm long. Blades to +12cm long, +6cm broad, elliptic, mostly glabrous above, pubescent below.

Adaxial surface.

Abaxial surface.

Inflorescence - Terminal cymes to +10cm long, often drooping. Peduncles thin(-1mm in diameter), glabrous. Pedicels to 7mm long. Branches of panicle opposite, decussate.

Flowers - Corolla white, deeply 4-lobed, glabrous. Corolla tube to 3mm long, with purple internally. Lobes +1.5cm long, 3mm broad, linear to oblanceolate, rounded at apex. Stamens 2, included, adnate to corolla tube. Filaments short. Anthers 1.2mm long, purplish. Ovary superior, 2-locular. Placentation axile. Calyx tube to 1.2mm long, green, glabrous, 4-lobed. Lobes 2mm long, acute, glabrous. Fruit a dark subglobose to ovoid drupe to 1.5cm long.

Chionanthus virginicus flowers

Chionanthus virginicus calyxCalyx.

Chionanthus virginicus organs

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Rocky ground along bluffs, glades, and ledges. Also found in wet woods and in cultivation.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species is becoming popular in cultivation because of its showy flower clusters and the fact it is native. Typically the plant is shrubby but it can be grown as a small tree. The plant was used medicinally by Indians and more modern physicians to treat many ailments from congestion to infections. It is not used much anymore.
In Missouri the plant is found growing wild only in a few southern counties. It is cold tolerant and can grows as far north as New Jersey.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 4-29-03, and in Auburn, AL., 4-17-05.


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