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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Graceful Gleditsia

Gleditsia triacanthos 'Sunburst' - Honey Locust

Before the advent of shampoo, the ancient, wealthy Chinese used Gleditsia fruit, or grifola, to wash hair. Spices were usually added, giving the hair an intense aroma. It has also been used in China for 2000 years as a detergent.


The Latin name commemorates Gottlieb Gleditsch, director of the Berlin Botanical Gardens, who died in 1786.


G. sinensis is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Chinese herbology, where it is called zao jiao and is used for the following complaints. It is considered toxic.

1. Dispels phlegm.
2. Opens the orifices, revives the spirit.
3. Dissipates clumps, reduces swelling.
4. Unblocks the bowels, expels roundworms.

Too much information?

16 comments:

Maggie's garden said...

Is this tree also known as the tree of heaven? I think I have 2 on my property. They are beautiful and not much trouble. I love the information on the uses. I really get into uses of medicinal plants. I once studied making herbal tinctures.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Beautiful tree! I love any plant that colour green. It seems to glow in the dark!

Vagabonde said...

Such a delicate tree. I have been reading all the posts you wrote while I was away. I liked your description of your trip to New York. Isn’t New York a special city? I love to go there and just walk around. The view from your home is also quite spectacular. It must be very pleasant to sit in your lounge room and look at the scenery. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Alaine said...

Karen, I'm not sure about that. They're very delicate; I mow slowly around them. These shots don't do them justice. I'm a believer too and use herbs every day.

Alaine said...

Bonnie, I took these shots at 8:45pm and they were glowing in the dark with the flash on them!

Alaine said...

Vagabonde, NYC certainly was special - if we go back we'll take that double decker bus tour. Thanks for visiting and yes, it is pleasant to slow down, sit and take in the views outside.

Susan said...

Very interesting plant! It is toxic and yet it is used for, ahem, bowel problems while it revives the spirit and reduces swelling...gotta get me some of that! lol

Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

Handy to have that around for whenever roundworms need expelling!
It looks similar to a tree in the African bush which has soft, silky leaves that can substitute for toilet paper if necessary. There also happens to be another similar one but it has thorns!

Friko said...

Gleditsias are beautiful, delicate trees, but rather short-lived. I had one bit it died. I didn't have the heart to replace it.

Alaine said...

Hi Susan, I certainly needed some after the 22hr plane trip; my poor legs were so swollen!

Alaine said...

Derrick, you're a scream! There are 12 varieties but no, we couldn't have the thorny one in the loo!!

Alaine said...

Oh, Friko, that's sad. They do prefer free draining soil. Why don't you try another one in a different area? We have five here, they're all planted on the flat but perhaps our climate just suits them? They were planted 10 years ago and we've been in drought for 13 years.

Glennis said...

We had a large one of these trees that turned one corner of our garden golden every year, we loved that tree. Ours was not thorny, I had a white star clematas climbing up its branches so that in the winter the tree was still lovely.

Alaine said...

Hello Glennis, thanks for visiting! I just love the colour they bring to the garden. I have a clematis that has jumped over over a pathway into a James Stirling pittosporum next to it. I've left it there and just trim every now and then, so that we can walk underneath the arbour that has been created.

Lyn said...

Revives the spirit, you say..sure can use a bit right now.
Chamomile.. I recall the aroma as my grandmother used to rinse my hair with the freshly crumbled herb that she picked in her small garden, in upstate NY, in the summertime..thanks for bringing back this memory!!

Alaine said...

Hi Lyn, Chamomile also has many medicinal uses. I bought some once, made a tea and used it on my hair as a final rinse. It was said to bring out golden highlights. I soon got tired of the process, though.