Vitex Tree - Chaste Tree

Vitex agnus castus

The Vitex tree is a small, multi-trunked deciduous shrub or tree which can grow to 25 feet but more commonly tops out at 10. The showy season for Vitex agnus castus is mid summer when it is fully foliated and adorned by lavender flowers.



A mature <i>Vitex</i> tree growing at the St. George Botanical Garden on St. Croix.

Vitex Chaste Tree



Vitex flower buds on our tree.

Vitex flower buds

Chaste tree berries ripening on our tree.

Vitex tree flowers occur in 8-10 inch spikes at the stem tips.

The small, tubular blooms are followed by small, round, reddish fruits.

Chaste tree fruit turns black as it ripens and resembles black peppercorns.

They also smell and taste like black pepper. I let the fruit dry on the tree, harvest it and put it into a pepper grinder. I find it to be just a bit less "hot" than black pepper.

The leaves of the Vitex tree are palmate. The are dull green on top with gray undersides. Each one will have 7-9 "fingers".

A friend of mine came to visit once while my trees were just seedlings. She thought I was growing marijuana and warned me to watch out for the police. I had a devil of a time convincing her that they were not marijuana plants!

Never having seen a marijuana plant growing, I looked for a picture of it on the Internet. They are strikingly similar. Chaste leaves are aromatic. No, they do not smell like marijuana.

Another thing Vitex agnus castus has in common with marijuana is that it is used medicinally. Only it is the fruit and not the leaves that are used. Chaste tree berry is used primarily as a natural remedy for menopause and other hormone problems.

There are a few selections of Vitex available. Vitex agnus castus Latifolia has larger leaflets than the others.

'Alba' and 'Silver Spire' have white flowers, 'Rosea' blooms pink, and the flowers of 'Abbeville Blue' are purple.

The Vitex tree will grow in any well drained soil. It likes sun and doesn't mind heat. It is drought tolerant once established and can be grown near salt water.

Vitex chaste tree is normally grown from seed or cuttings. I raised my two trees from seed. The seed is large and easy to handle. Sow them in the spring and they should sprout within 3 weeks. If you want to use cuttings, wait until the weather is warm. They will root easily then. The young plants are quick growers.

When to Prune Chaste Tree

Not much pruning is needed. You can limb the tree up to make it look more like a tree and less like a shrub. Otherwise, just shape it during early spring while it is still dormant. It won't harm the plant if you prune it at another time, it's just easier to see what you're doing when the tree is naked.




Crepe Myrtle Trees
Crepe myrtle trees. Lagerstroemia indica can be grown as a bush, plant or tree. Dwarf crepe myrtle varieties. Crepe myrtle pruning. Planting and care of crepe myrtles. Crepe myrtle bonsai bushes.

Golden Rain Tree
At 30 feet tall by 15 feet wide, the deciduous golden rain tree makes a beautiful landscape specimen from summer through late fall. The ferny medium green foliage casts a dappled shade in the summer before the bright yellow flowers form.

Aloe Tree
The Aloe tree or Aloe barberae is a slow growing tree that matures into a striking landscape centerpiece. The heavy gray trunk and branches grow in an upright habit to a height of 30 feet or more in warm areas.

Chaste Tree Berry
Chaste tree berry extract confers benefits to women with a hormone imbalance. Vitex chaste tree herb is most commonly taken as a tincture. It’s a natural remedy for menopause with few side effects.



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