Astonishingly beautiful, this small tree is covered with large fragrant strap-petaled white flowers in May, usually dioecious (with male & female flowers borne on separate plants), large broad leaves create dense shade and turn yellow in fall, green fruits (olive-like drupes, it's in the Olive family) turn dark blue/black in early fall, smooth gray bark becomes warty on old trees, often grows as a group of clustered trunks, natural habitat is woodland glades and rocky outcrops, tolerates Clay and air pollution tolerant, Black Walnut tolerant, great rain garden plant, host plant to several beautiful moths including the Fringetree Sallow (Sympistis chionanthi [Adita chionanthi]) and Fawn Sphinx (Sphinx-kalmiae), pollinated by native bees, many birds feast on the fruits including wild turkey, northern Cardinals, and pileated woodpeckers. Sadly, this tree is susceptible to the invasive Emerald Ash Borer Beetles, so some care must be taken to protect them.
15-30 feet tall
Plant Hardiness Zones: Zone 5b-9b
Native Range: c. NJ & PA, through s OH & KY to MO, south to the e TX & c FL. Rare in NJ, PA, OH, & OK
Germination - Difficult: (Radicle dormancy) Cold stratify until Nov 1, warm stratify Nov 1 to Feb 1, cold stratify Feb 1 to May 1, plant outside May 1. (Note: Do not plant out until full stratification cycle is complete. The root (aka radicle) will emerge during the first period of warm stratification, but the seeds must experience the second cold stratification cycle for the cotyledons and leaves to emerge. Chionanthus seed will arrive in damp sphagnum moss in a small zip lock bag, having so far followed the above schedule.
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