by Merilyn Cranford, Somervell County Master Gardener
One of my favorite plants I look for in spring is the vitex or chaste tree. It has beautiful purple/lavender cone-shaped blooms and exudes a fragrance that no other tree has. It’s name is derived from the Latin “vieo” meaning to weave or tie up, a reference to the use of Vitex agnus-castus in basketry. It is known in both Greek and Latin as “Chaste” since in ancient times it was thought to be an aphrodisiac.
The plant is widely cultivated in warm, temperate climates for its foliage and butterfly/bee-attracting spikes of lavender flowers. I am told it will grow to a height of 12 feet or more and requires full sun or partial shade along with well-drained soil. Also, it is hearty to Zone 7.
Additionally, it is a traditional plant of Africa and has a potential to improve nutrition and support sustainable landcare. It’s flowers and ripening seeds are harvested for medicinal purposes.
For anyone searching for a drought-tolerate tree, this one is for you. It is also suitable for xeriscaping, and very easily grown. So, when you happen to be out and about in our area, look for this beauty. You will find it everywhere, especially in early summer when the beautiful purple flowers are sure to catch your eye.
Here’s a tip: After the tree produces its flowers, let them die, then clip them off and the tree will produce more flowers.
HAPPY GARDENING !