We rely on donations from our users to keep maintaining and extending our free-to-use database of over 8000 edible and useful plants. Currently we are also investing time and effort in preparing two new books on plants suitable for food forests in different warmer climate conditions, to complement the one we published in 2021 on temperate food forests, which has been very well received. Please give what you can to help us complete this work. More >>>

Follow Us:

 

Vitex - L.

Common Name Agnus Castus, Lilac chastetree, Vitex, Chastetree
Family Verbenaceae
USDA hardiness 7-9
Known Hazards Headache, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, increased menstrual flow, rashes, pruritus[301].
Habitats Damp places by streams and on the littoral[45].
Range S. Europe.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Vitex Agnus Castus, Lilac chastetree, Vitex, Chastetree


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Sten
Vitex Agnus Castus, Lilac chastetree, Vitex, Chastetree

 

Translate this page:

Summary

Bloom Color: Blue, Lavender, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early spring, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Vase.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Vitex is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf from June to October, in flower from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor 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

Synonyms

Habitats

Edible Uses

The fruit is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute[46, 61, 100, 183]. The aromatic leaves are also used as a spice[183, 227]. This plant forms one of the ingredients of the legendary Moroccan spice mixture 'ras el hanout'[183]. Unfortunately, the seed is very unlikely to be produced in Britain[K].

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.


Agnus castus has been used for thousands of years for its beneficial affect on the female hormonal system. Modern research has confirmed this use, the seeds being used to restore balanced functioning to the female reproductive system[254]. The seeds and fruits are anaphrodisiac, aphrodisiac, galactogogue, ophthalmic, sedative, stomachic, women's complaints[89, 148, 165]. Prolonged usage restores corpus luteum function[165]. Unfortunately, the berries are unlikely to be produced in the British climate[K]. The berries of this plant have a range of medicinal actions but possibly the most important is its ability to rectify hormonal imbalances caused by an excess of oestrogen and an insufficiency of progesterone[224]. It acts upon the pituitary gland, reducing the production of certain hormones and increasing the production of others, shifting the balance in favour of the gestagens. Thus it has a wide application of uses in malfunctions of the feminine reproductive system and has been used with great effect in restoring absent menstruation, regulating heavy periods, restoring fertility when this is caused by hormonal imbalance, relieving pre-menstrual tension and easing the change of the menopause[224]. Some caution is advised since excessive doses can cause a nervous disorder known as formication, which manifests as a sensation of insects crawling over the skin[238]. The berries are considered to be an aphrodisiac[89], though other reports say that they are anaphrodisiac[11, 46]. The reason for this apparent disagreement is that the berries have a regulating effect on the body and so are likely to increase sexual activity in those who are not very active in this area whilst reducing it in those who are very active[K]. The fresh berries are pounded to a pulp and used in the form of a tincture for the relief of paralysis, pains in the limbs, weakness etc[4]. Other uses include: reduced flatulence, suppress appetite and induce sleep. Unproven uses include: treatment of impotence, prostatitis, swelling of the testes, sterility, swelling of the ovaries[301]. Not recommended during pregnancy and could inhibit milk production[301]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine approve Vitex agnus-castus for premenstrual syndrome, and menopausal complaints (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More

FOOD FOREST PLANTS

Other Uses

A perfume is made from the flowers[227]. Young stems are used in basket making[46, 61, 100]. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves, the seed and the roots[100, 148]. Wood - hard, close grained[146].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Espalier, Pollard, Standard, Specimen. Prefers a light well-drained loamy soil in a warm sunny position sheltered from cold drying winds[49, 200]. Succeeds in dry soils. Intolerant of water-logging[202]. Hardy to about -10°c, this species only succeeds outdoors in the milder parts of Britain[1, 11], though it grows well on a wall at Kew[11]. Plants only flower freely in a warm summer, so they are best grown against a sunny wall even in areas of the country where they are hardy[219]. The plants failed to open their flowers on our Cornish trial ground even after a very hot summer[K]. The flowers are produced so late in the season that they are unlikely to produce viable seed in this country even if they flower properly[K]. A very ornamental plant[1], there are some named varieties[219]. The whole plant is aromatic, the leaves and stems are strongly aromatic[182], the flowers are deliciously scented[245] and the dried seeds have a pungent lemony perfume[245]. This species has long been regarded as a symbol of chastity[46]. Flowers are produced at the ends of the current year's growth[202]. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring and should consist of cutting out dead wood and shortening last year's flowering branches[219]. Special Features: Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is multistemmed with multiple stems from the crown [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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

Fahrenheit:

image

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, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now

Propagation

Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse. The seed does not need pre-treatment[113]. Germination is usually free and quick[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, November in a cold frame[113].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 :

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 payosChocolate BerryTree8.0 10-12 MLMHNDM422
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.

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

1150200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Vitex  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.