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The Native Fringe Tree

(credit:  Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

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By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Here’s a nice little native tree that blooms a bit later – usually in May, but this year, who’s to say? I’m talking about our native Fringe tree, whose Latin name is Chionanthus virginicus.

Fringe trees get their common name from their thin white flowers that dangle like fringe – or an ‘Old Man’s Beard’ or ‘Grancy Graybeard’ as they’re also called. The delicate white flowers appear after most spring blooming trees are done – so if you plant one now, you still have time to see them in your yard this year.

Happy in sun to part-shade, Fringe trees are easy to grow around here, I’ve planted three in recent years with no problems at all. These trees stay small – about 15 to 20 feet high, so you won’t need to prune, and their naturally upright habit is lovely.

And if you’re not home all day, don’t worry, while the flowers are fabulous in sunshine, you can enjoy them in the evening too. Illuminated by lamps in your yard or moonlight’s glow, the white fluffy flowers of our native Fringe tree put on a lovely show – and put out a lightly sweet scent too.