Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Shrub
C. pubescens.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Fringe Tree
Chionanthus virginicus
Oleaceae

Wood – hard, heavy, close grained, weighing about 39lb per cubic foot[82, 227]. Of no commercial value because of the small size of the tree[229].

  • Medicinal Use

    The fringe tree was commonly used by the North American Indians and European settlers alike to treat inflammations of the eye, mouth ulcers and spongy gums[254]. In modern herbalism it is considered to be one of the most reliable remedies for disorders of the liver and gall bladder[238].

    The dried root bark is alterative, aperient, cholagogue, diuretic, febrifuge and tonic[4, 21, 46, 222, 238]. It is used in the treatment of gallbladder pain, gallstones, jaundice and chronic weakness[254]. A tincture of the bark was once widely used internally in the treatment of hypertrophy of the liver, jaundice, bilious headache, gallstones, rheumatism etc[222, 238]. The root bark also appears to strengthen function in the pancreas and spleen whilst anecdotal evidence indicates that it may substantially reduce sugar levels in the urine[254]. Fringe tree also stimulates the appetite and digestion and is an excellent remedy for chronic illness, especially where the liver has been affected[254].

    A tea or a poultice can be made from the root bark for external use as a wash for wounds, inflammations, sores, infections etc[4, 222].

    The roots can be harvested at any time of the year, the bark is peeled from them and is then dried for later use[238].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – used as a pickle like olives[55, 177, 183]. The fruit is up to 18mm long, it has a thin pulp and contains 1 – 3 rounded seeds[227].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[164, 200]. Germination is usually good. Stored seed can be sown in February or March in a warm greenhouse according to one report[78] but germination can them take 18 months at 15 – 20¡c[113]. Alternatively the stored seed can be pre-soaked for 2 – 3 hours in warm water and then given 3 months warm stratification followed by 3 months at 2 – 4¡c[113]. Germination can then be fairly rapid. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame. Plant them out into their permanent positions the following spring or early summer. Layering in early summer as soon as new growth is long enough. Takes 15 months[78]. Layering can also be carried out in spring or autumn[200].
Prefers a good loamy neutral to acid soil in full sun[1. 11, 182, 200]. Succeeds in partial shade but does not fruit so well in such a position[200]. Plants flower more freely in areas with hotter summers[188] and are slow-growing in areas with cool summers[238].. A very ornamental plant[1, 11], it is hardy to about -25¡c[184]. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild, where it is remarkably free from diseases or insect pests[229]. Plants begin to flower and bear fruit when they are 5 – 8 years old[227]. The flowers have a delicate sweet perfume[245]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed and fruit is required. This species transplants easily[11]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
Eastern N. America – Florida and Texas north to New Jersey, Ohio and Missouri.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.