A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants
White Fringetree, Grancy Gray Beard, Old-man’s-beard, Fringe Tree
Full sun to open shade; moderately wet to moderately dry moisture level; prefers deep, rich soils but is extremely adaptable and will grow in moderately coarse sandy and gravelly loams, medium loams and fine clay; strongly acid to slightly acid pH.
10-20 feet height by 10-20 feet spread; bright white flowers in drooping, feathery spikes, 4-8 inches long, in spring; grape-like berries, ½ inch wide, in loose, drooping spikes in late summer to fall.
Growth Rate: Slow to medium
Maintenance: Easy to grow. Infrequent disease and insect problems. Seldom needs pruning. May prune when young to have 1-3 trunks or can leave it to become a many-stemmed plant. Some susceptibility to scale if grown in dry locations.
Propagation: Seed germination code E. Seeds have a double dormancy. Pre-treat warm for 3-5 months and then cold at 41 degrees F for 1-2 months and then warm again.
Native Region: Concentrated in Cumberland Plateau, Ridge and Valley, and Blue Ridge provinces
Very beautiful large shrub or small tree often wider than high. Almost always found in the wild as an understory woodland plant, typically occurring with Cucumbertree Magnolia and Tuliptree. One of the last trees to leaf out in spring and appears to be dead until leaves and flowers appear. Slightly fragrant flowers are handsome when in bloom. Begins to bloom when only 4-5 years old. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees, so need both male and female trees to get a good crop of dark blue fruits, although occasionally a female tree will pollinate itself. Needs at least 3-4 hours of sun but can take less with reasonable success. Intolerant of prolonged dry spells. Tolerant of air pollution and adapts well to urban settings. Effective when planted as a specimen tree, in groups or in borders. Cultivars available.
Birds relish the fruit. Attracts many songbirds, and foliage is browsed by many animals. However, tree cannot tolerate extensive browsing.