Vitex, or Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus-castus
Comments: The Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree, Hemp Tree, Sage Tree, and Indian Spice, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is widely adapted to Texas. A showy summertime floral display blooms sporadically until early fall. Grows best in full sun and in well drained soils. It will tolerate drought and less optimum soils, but growth and flowering will be limited. In moist soils, growth can be rapid, but blooms will not be as vibrant in color. Vitex trees require heat for best flowering and is a good candidate for planting in a xeric garden.
Size: 6-25 ft. tall, 10-20 ft. wide
Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; range of soil types
Growth Rate: Rapid
Bark: Smooth brown bark; multi trunked. May be propagated by layering lower limbs in the ground.
Leaves: Aromatic leaves are palmate, with five to seven leaflets. Dark green above and silvery underneath.
Fall Color: Dull yellow-brown.
Flower: Grape-colored flowers cover long panicles that can elongate up to 12 inches. Starting in early summer, flowers begin opening from the bottom of the flower stem and continue up the stem over the course of four to five weeks. If the spent spikes are cut off promptly after the first flowering the shrub will bloom again.
Fruit: Following flowering, a fleshy fruit containing four seeds sometimes used as seasoning.
Pests: None known.
Cultivars: Abbeville: deep blue flowers; Alba: white flowers; Blushing Spires: soft pink flowers; Lilac Queen: lavender flowers; Rosea: pink flowers.