(Will be adding pictures of Fringe Tree shortly)
Fringe tree is famous in horticulture under the name of Grancy Graybeard, Grandaddy Graybeard, etc. Its flowers are very showy and many times the trees are dug up and transplanted from the wild. This is alright, except when the commercial growers decide to partake in using the wild trees as their stock, the net result is the number of wild trees is greatly reduced by this practice. Better to cultivate for market, rather than wholesale digging, which of course, would eventually eliminate the wild stock.
Identification of Fringe tree in the wild requires one to become very familiar with its appearance, as the plant looks very common when not in bloom. When in bloom, the plant is very easy to spot, because the showy blossoms are very white and profuse. They hang in fringes from the semi-leaved branches and thus the name Fringe Tree. The fragrance when in full bloom is heavenly. I once had the pleasure of entering an old garden planted with several large fringe trees in a sheltered enclave. The fragrance made me understand the word heavenly.
One trick to look for when the tree is not in bloom, is the size of the leaves. They are larger than most leaves and the veins are also very striking with a reddish stem. It is of course, similar to the other green leaved plants in the forest, but after one really looks it becomes distinguishable by these characteristics. Also insects love to eat the leaves in the fall, so you will begin to see holy leaves more so than in most plants, although this can be a little deceiving. The main two plants which I had a hard time separating it from were horse sugar, and wild olive. The shape and color of the leaves are both very similar, the fringe stepping from the pack due to the largeness of the leaves. The horse sugar root also looks and tastes very similar, so it requires some thought and study, although none of the above are poisonous, so at least it won’t be a fatal mistake, although therapeutically they are not interchangeable so you definitely wouldn’t get the same result.
Fringe tree root bark is the most desirable part. Some authors have mentioned using the tree bark, but the root bark is much more desirable. Fringe Tree Root bark is characteristically very bitter at the first impression and then it becomes very nutty in flavor. Not at all unpalatable after chewing a little. This bitterness implies its highly esteemed use in liver disorders.
In Eclectic medicine Fringe tree is the most specific of all medicines in jaundice. Indeed in Kings Dispensatory it is stated that if there is any one thing true in all of specific medicine it is that Fringe tree is specific for jaundice. I have found it useful in all liver disorders such as cirrhosis, hepatitis and all the complications which arise from these. Dr Ellingwood states that the best influence is felt in acute congestion of the liver, with imperfect discharge of bile, or catarrah of the bile duct.
In gall stones it is very helpful because it liquifies the bile and prevents the formation as well as promoting the discharge of those formed. It is noted for bilious headache. Ellingwood further states that it will quickly overcome the jaundice of childhood and infancy, and especially in the jaundice of the pregnant term.
I took my lead from Ellingwood’s Materia Medica in the use of Fringe tree in diabetes. I combine it with Bugleweed and Goats Rue and have very good success.
In liver disorders I have combined Fringe tree with Iris, Podophyllum and Pitcher Plant root. Each having their own specific use in liver disorders. Iris and Mandrake being a little more famous, but Pitcher Plant is very much indicated in sluggish or torpid liver.
For many years I worked with the simple combination with Fringe tree and Iris and saw many satisfactory results. One case was a lady of about 30 years, who has spent considerable time in India and who had formerly suffered Hepatitis. She had a long standing pain in her liver. We were doing a festival in Atlanta, so she was really not familiar with our work. However she was a little desperate and she decided to give the liver formula which was the Fringe and Iris, a try. In less than an hour, she was totally impressed with the relief she received. She purchased a considerable amount because she was from Canada, and we sent her more once or twice, since she became totally releived from the symptoms at last contact. I mention this because she had all sorts of medicine including Ayur-Vedic formulas at her disposal. However I feel certain that the Fringe tree alone would have cured her condition. In my opinion in liver complaints Fringe tree is one of the most wonderful herbs on this planet. It grows a lot in the south and I figure it must be because God knew there would be so many “moonshiners” here that liver complaints would be in abundance.