Vitex agnus-castus

Accession Count: 18
Common Name: Chaste Tree, Monk's Pepper
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Family Name: Verbenaceae
Botanical Name: Vitex agnus-castus
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: Vitex agnus-castus is a deciduous shrub that grows to be eight to 20 feet tall and six to 20 feet wide. The leaves are palmately compound, opposite of one another, with five to seven dark green leaflets. The lanceolet leaflets measure four to eight inches long and two to four inches wide. From summer to fall, the chaste tree blooms beautifully scented inflorescence ranging from bright blue to lavender. The variations 'Rosea' and 'Alba' bloom pink and white respectivley. The small flowers grow at the terminal ends of branches and face upward. V. angus-castus has a gray color to its trunk and can be trained as either a single or multi-trunked tree that often grows in a very interesting fashion. It also produces small, black, fleshy fruits (1,2). 
Compound: Vit agn
Geographic Origin: Southern Europe
Ecozone Origin: Palearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Chaste tree is native to southern Europe and west Asia, and can now be found throughout Europe and the southeastern United States (3).
Cultivation Notes: V. agnus-castus grows best when planted in loose, well drained soil, but can tolerate clay or sandy soils. Plant in either full or reflected sun and be sure to water monthly. Chaste tree can tolerate heat well, but is semi-hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as 10 - 20oF (1,2). This species is resistant to Texas Root rot, a pathogenic fungus that causes plants to wilt and die (1).
Ethnobotany: Chaste tree has great uses for both landscaping and medicinal purposes. Also known as monk's pepper, the extracts from this tree are recognized as effective treatments for symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and premenstrual syndrome (4). In landscapes, V. agnus-castus is an excellent summer color shrub or tell tree, and is often used for individual display or as a patio tree. When planting in xeriscape landscapes, chaste trees are best in mini-oasis zones (1). The plant can become messy once the leaves begin to fall, and the pleasantly scented inflorescence often attracts butterflies and bees (2). 

Height: 11 - 15 feet
Width: 11 - 15 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Spring
Flower Season: Summer
Color: Lavender
Function: Patio
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

Citations:
1. Jones, Warren D, and Charles M Sacamano. Landscape Plants for Dry Regions: More Than 600 Species from around the World. Fisher Books, 2000.
2. USDA fact sheet -- Retrieved Oct. 11, 2018
4. WebMD -- Retrieved Oct. 11, 2018
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Vitex agnus-castus