By Mary Nell Jackson, HSA member
Who knew this hitchhiker would grow into a beautiful tree. My first vitex came tucked in the soil of a plant I purchased long ago. I wasn’t sure of the little sprout that appeared and let it grow. It turned out to be Vitex agnus-castus, my lucky day!
This herbal tree is also called Abraham’s balm, Indian spice, chaste tree, and monks’ pepper. The common name of monks’ pepper refers to the medieval belief that potions made from the black berries that form after bloom time helped monks maintain their vow of chastity. It is also used medicinally to help with female PMS.
Its name “vitex,” is derived from the Latin word “vieo” meaning to weave or tie up. Indeed, the flexible limbs of some species of vitex are used for basketweaving.
Bees and butterflies love this small tree which makes it a great choice to plant near a butterfly garden. Vitex is a Texas Superstar Plant and comes in lavender/blue, pink and white blossom colors. Vitex agnus-castus is native to the Mediterranean area and is hardy to Zone 6. Even if it dies back to the ground, it will return and bloom on new wood. It easily reseeds in the right growing conditions.
Many gardeners refer to this tree as Texas lilac… I call it my Hitchhiker.
Medicinal Disclaimer – This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment. Please consult a health care provider before pursuing any herbal treatments.