Botanical Name: Chionanthus virginicus
Common Name: Grancy Graybeard, Old Man’s Beard, Fringe Tree, Sweetheart Tree, White Fringetree, Snowflower Tree, Flowering Ash, Grandfather Graybeard
Description: Grancy Graybeard is a gorgeous Florida native tree. It gets its name from its clouds of fleecy white, softly fragrant flowers that hang from the branches in late spring and early summer. Trees can be either male or female. Males sport larger, showier blooms, and if grown alongside a male, females form attractive, blackish-blue fruits July through September that birds and wildlife, including bats, like. It slowly grows to 12-20′ tall and wide. Grows naturally into a multi-stemmed, rounded habit, but can be trained to a single trunk tree. This is a deciduous tree, and is one of the last trees to break dormancy in the spring. Likes a sun, part sun, or part shade area to grow in. Grows best in moist, well drained soil. Tolerates clay soil and some drought. Attracts bees, butterflies, bats, and other pollinators. Is a host plant for the Rustic sphinx moth (Manduca rustica), waved sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa), and laurel sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae). Is drought tolerant. Likes to grow in loamy or sandy soil that is acidic.
This tree is often overshadowed by dogwood, plum, and other spring-flowering trees. But its graceful tasseled flowers put on an equally spectacular display. Each fragrant flower consists of four long, linear, ivory-colored petals. They are born in many loose, pendulous clusters that give the tree its “fringed” appearance, and typically appear in late spring when other trees are finishing blooming. Leaves are dark green, lanceolate to oval with pale undersides and entire margins. They are oppositely arranged.
It occurs naturally in a variety of habitats including moist hammocks and sandy uplands.
Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.
This plant in 3-gallon containers is 1.5-3′ tall.
This plant in 7-gallon containers is 3-5′ tall.
This plant in 15-gallon containers is 5-6′ tall.
Plant Lore: Grancy Graybeard is in the Olive family. Native Americans used this plant for disinfectant and dermatological aid. Its genus name comes from the Greek chion meaning snow and Anthos meaning flower.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 10A