Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Tuesday's Trees- Fringe Tree, Chionanthus
The Fringe Tree is a tree that, until Jamestown's 400th Celebration, was unknown to me. As we live in the Historical Triangle; Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg, any celebration is cause for the entire area to join in. Yorktown decided to declare the Chionanthus virginicus the 'Yorktown Snow Flower Tree'. York County fact sheet Sales were up for the entire area, the tree was hard to come by and if by chance you found one…it was priced dearly.
Lucky for the Learning Garden, we already had one. Well, ok, we have two Chionanthus. One is the virginicus and the other is the Chinese variety, retusus. Both are great specimen trees, nice shape, nice size, spring flowers, fruiting on the female tree (it is dioecious) –so how does one decide which to put into their garden? I have listed a pairing of websites for each of the trees. All of the sites have favorable remarks for both species. They are small multi-stems trees ranging from 12- 20 feet tall and wide. The virginicus is hardy zones 3-9, a true native with a wide range across the country. The retusus is hardy zones 5- 9, also a wide range. NC State- C. virginicus NC State- C. retusus, Missouri Botanical Garden- C. virginicus
Missouri Botanical Garden- C. retusus, UCONN-C. virginicus UCONN- C. retusus , Forestry Service- C. retusus, and Virginia Tech- C. virginicus
Growing conditions are full sun to part shade. Both require little maintenance, average water needs and well-drained soils. They seldom need pruning and have few pests. The spring flowers are fragrant and quite showy. The fruit in the fall is a dark bluish purple drupe, a wonderful food source for birds.
So how does one choose? My favorite is the virginicus because it is a native, I like the flowers on this one better (retusus flowers point upward and the virginicus hang downward and are showier). The retusus has smaller glossier leaves. I think you could be happy with either one. The retusus in the Learning Garden didn't have many blooms this spring, so I didn't get a picture of it. I will add to the photos as the seasons bring leaf color change and next spring's blooms. Fall colors are said to range yellow to golden to brown. The leaves are opposite and whorled at the tip of the stem on the virginicus. The leaf margins on our virginicus are smooth and the retusus are serrated.
If you have space in your garden, this tree, either the virginicus or the retusus would be a great addition.
Next week's tree- Red Buckeye.