Vitex

 Vitex  (Vitex agnus-castus)

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Vitex
Vitex agnus-castus
(VY-teks AG-nus KAS-tus)

Lilac Chaste Tree, Chaste Tree, Wild Lavender, Sage Tree, Hemp Tree, Monk’s Pepper Tree,
Wild Pepper, Abraham’s Balm, Tree of Chastity

Family
Verbenaceae

Description
This tough flowering shrub is native to southern Europe and western Asia; it is well adapted to the southern U.S. and is an excellent plant for Brazos Valley soils.  Long was a favorite in early Texas gardens, it is regaining its popularity because of its beauty and durability both as a tall, spreading shrub and as a small landscape tree with a broad, round crown.

Plant habit
Large, multi-stemmed shrub or small multi-stemmed tree

Landscape use
Plant as a specimen or in a group, many ornamental features; however, winter interest is minor

Average mature size
10-15’ tall x 15-20’ wide

Growth rate
Moderate to fast; easy to grow, relatively short lived

Sun exposure
Sun, part sun/shade

Soil requirements
Tolerates most soil conditions

Water requirements
Prefers dry to well-drained soils; tolerant of drought conditions

Heat tolerance
Moderate-high

Foliage
Deciduous, palmate, sage green, aromatic leaves

Flowers
Lavender panicles bloom on new growth, also available in blue (V. caerula), white (V. alba) and pink (V. rosea), attracts butterflies

Blooming period
During May/June and sporadically throughout the summer

Fruit characteristics
Inconspicuous black fruit

Pests and disease
None serious; occasional leaf fungus may cause leaf drop

Other
Considered a heritage plant; as early as 400 B.C. Hippocrates used vitex in medical treatments.  Its legendary use to lessen libido accounts for its common name.  Used as a pepper substitute.  Leaves have a sedative effect and blooms can be used to make perfume.