Chinese Fringetree (Chionanthus retusus)
The Chinese Fringetree is about the same size as the White Fringetree but looks a bit more shrubby. It does not grow well as far north either, preferring zones 5B through 9B. Its flowers and fruit look similar, but they bloom on new wood. In fact the Chinese Fringetree leafs out earlier than the native Fringetree does but begins flowering about a week later than the native. Some feel that this tree produces a more stunning display than the White because the flowers occur on the tips of the branches versus being hidden amongst the branches. The pure white fragrant flowers, four inches long terminal panicles which appear to cover the tree with snowy white cotton for two to three weeks. Its fruits are more obvious and ornamental and its gray, diamond-patterned bark peels and provides nice winter interest. In the end, it is a valuable landscape tree in its own right, just a bit different than the American native.