Chionanthus comprises two species:

C. retusus, which is indigenous in China, and C. virginicus, which is indigenous in the eastern United States.

This is a deciduous, woody-stemmed, dioecious shrub or tree with whorls of stemmed leaves, pendent clusters of abundant white flowers and sometimes oval, dark blue drupes (only on the female plants, and only if there is a male plant nearby for cross-pollination).

C. retusus, Chinese fringe tree, is 2-3 (-7) m tall. It has oblong-oval leaves, 2.5-10 cm long, and clusters of snow-white flowers, 5-10 cm long.

C. virginicus, 2-10 m tall, has hairy stems, oval, pointed leaves, 10-20 cm long, hairy on the underside, and up to 15 cm long, greenish-white clusters of flowers, 2-5 cm long.

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