Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

/ / Trees and Shrubs

Description

The genus Vitex contains many species however V. agnus-castus is most closely related to V. negundo and V. trifolia.  It also has a variant called V. a. var. latifolia (1).  V. agnus-castus is a shrub that grows to one to three meters (2).  It can, in some places, be found as a small tree reaching three to six meters and almost as wide in the crown (1).  Its leaves are palmately compound with five to seven lanceolate shaped leaflets (2).  The small flowers are usually violet but sometimes pink, white or pale blue in colour.  They form into terminal clusters.  The fruit is small, reddish black drupe (3).

Life Cycle

It is a deciduous plant (1).  Flowers appear on new growth wood in late spring or early summer and it continues to bloom until early autumn.

Habitat

It likes damp conditions, with well drained soils at low elevations (1).  It can often be found in warm seashore areas (3).

Distribution

It is common over all Greece (3) and it is native to southern Europe and western Asia (1).

References

Description written by Amy Trayler (2009)

(1)   Florida Data (2008) Vitex agnus-castus [online] Available:

http://www.floridata.com/ref/V/vitex_a.cfm [date accessed: 11/05/2009]

(2)   Gilman. E. F., and Watson. D. G. (1994) Vitex agnus-castus Chastetree, Fact Sheet ST-664, US Forestry Service, Department of Agriculture, Florida

(3)   Sfikas. G. (2001) Trees and Shrubs of Greece, Efstathiadis Group S.A., Greece