Vitex Agni Casti – Chasteberry
Vitex agnus-castus, also called vitex, chaste tree, chasteberry, Abraham’s balm, lilac chastetree, or monk’s pepper, is a native of the Mediterranean region. It is one of the few temperate-zone species of Vitex, which is on the whole a genus of tropical and sub-tropical flowering plants. Theophrastus mentioned the shrub several times, as agnos(άγνος) in Enquiry into Plants. It has been long believed to be an anaphrodiciac – leading to its name as chaste tree – but its effectiveness for such action remains unproven.Vitex is a cross- pollinating plant, but its self pollination has been recorded.Vitex agnus-castus is widely cultivated in warm temperate and subtropical regions for its delicate-textured aromatic foliage and butterfly attracting spikes of lavender flowers in late summer in cooler climates. It grows to a height of 1–5 meters. It requires full sun or partial shade along with well-drained soil. Under ideal conditions it is hardy to -10 degrees F and can be found on the south shore of Long Island and Nantucket on the East Coast of North America and in the southwest of England. This plant is a brackish water dweller, indicating that it tolerates salt. Cold and wet weather results to high yield loss of Monks pepper. The plant grows well on loamy neutral to alkaline soil.The monk’s pepper fruits from one single tree can be harvested for more than 15 years. This indicates that the monk’s pepper cannot be integrated in a usual crop ratation system. It is suggested to sow dissimilar plants such as monocats as its subsequent crop so that it might be easier to control the monk’s pepper plant, the dicot.