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Vitex payos - (Lour.) Merr.

Common Name Chocolate Berry
Family Lamiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Open woodland, wooded grassland and on rocky outcrops at elevations from 50 - 1,500 metres[308 ]
Range Tropical Africa - DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Vitex payos Chocolate Berry

Vitex payos Chocolate Berry


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Chocolate Berry, Vitex payos, is a shrub or small tree with a rounded crown and grows up to 10 m in height. It is commonly grown in tropical Africa. The chocolate brown or black fruits are sweet and edible. It can be eaten raw or cooked, or made into jams. Medicinally, the plant is used for stomach ailments, threadworm, skin problems, and loss of appetite. Fallen leaves are used as a mulch. The wood is very hard and suitable as poles and spoons. It is also used for fuel.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Vitex payos is a TREE growing to 8 m (26ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Allasia payos Lour. Vitex allasia Planch. Vitex eylesii S.Moore Vitex hildebrandtii Vatke Vitex irin

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[308 , 323 ]. Sweet, with a mealy texture[303 ]. It can be made into jam[323 ]. Each fruit is about 2 cm long, with pointed tips and a chocolate brown or black skin. The juicy pulp surrounds a single hard stone. A very popular fruit in parts of Africa, it is definitely an acquired taste for people who have not eaten it previously. Westerners are typically offended by the flavour, the powdery texture, the oily feel in the mouth, and the strong smell323]. The fruits have a rather unpleasant smell, and leave a temporary black stain on the teeth, but they are much eaten by children and herdsmen[398 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Appetizer  Skin

A decoction of the root is used as a remedy for stomach problems[398 ]. The pounded bark is used to treat threadworm and skin problems[398 ]. The leaves are boiled and the liquid drunk by patients who have lost their appetite[398 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

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Other Uses

Fuel  Mulch  Soil conditioner  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The leaf fall of the tree acts as a mulch to improve soil condition[303 ]. Other Uses The wood is very hard. It is used for poles and spoons[398 ]. The wood is used for fuel[303 , 398 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Vitex payos is a species of the tropics, growing in hot, low and semi-arid places with a high water table. In more arid zones it is found near rock outcrops. It grows in areas where the mean annual rainfall is within the range 650 - 850 metres[303 ]. The tree coppices well[303 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a hard seed coat which hinders germination[303 ]. In the wild the seedcoat is broken by annual fires[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Anhongore, Azeitona-pequeno, Azeitona, Budeg keboke, Bugua, Bume-aincaobe, Bume, Cetona-pequena, Cetona, Ekarukei, Ewelu, Intompinha, Koro, Kukukunkuri, Kuo, Mangua, Muni, Murukukwe, N'ssogorro, Odoandri, Oyelo gwok, Oyelu, Oywelo too,

Angola; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Tanzania, United Republic of; Zambia; Zimbabwe, Africa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, North Africa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Southern Africa, Sudan, Uganda, West Africa.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Vitex agnus-castusAgnus Castus, Lilac chastetree, Vitex, ChastetreeShrub3.0 7-9 MLMNDM253
Vitex cannabifolia Shrub3.0 -  LMNDM021
Vitex donianaBlack PlumTree15.0 10-12 MLMHSNM434
Vitex keniensisFulu, Mkombachiko, MufuuTree25.0 10-12 FLMNM204
Vitex madiensisEkarukei, MurukukweTree4.0 10-12 MLMHNM423
Vitex negundoHuang Ping, Chinese chastetree, Cut Leaf Vitex, Cut-leaf ChastetreeShrub3.0 6-9 MLMNDM232
Vitex pinnataKelebanTree20.0 10-12 MLMHNDM024

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Lour.) Merr.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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