Lazy J Bar C

Lazy J Bar C

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Vitex agnus-castus

This has got to be one of my favorite bushes/trees! Many years ago, I was studying herbal medicine of the Southwest and was given some Vitex seeds to be used to make a tincture. The next year, I had several volunteer plants coming up and I don't remember having the seeds outside at all! Ever since, I have considered this to be my special herbal partner. When the plants are small, they kind of resemble marijuana with their five-lobed leaves and I had to ask my herbal teacher what in the heck it was! :)


Vitex is a deciduous Mediterranean native hardy to Zone 7. It grows quickly and is easily started from seed. Here is a purple flowered plant that I dug up as a volunteer at a local nursery about six years ago. At first glance, it looks as though the ends of the branches are bare but those are the seeds that follow the flowers. There are a LOT of seeds on this one!




I bought a white flowered bush a few years later that we planted out front. It has done okay but it hasn't grown and thrived the way the purple one has; although, it did freeze to the ground during our 100-year freeze event in 2010 so I guess it's doing fine.





Then, last year, I had two volunteers come up in one of the barrels in the back yard. When they bloomed this year, the flowers were PINK!! Hmmm...I guess the plants cross pollinated. My plan is to transplant these two out near the garden to provide some shade and to attract more bees to the garden since they LOVE the flowers!


The pink flowers are just getting ready to open again. There is an initial heavy blooming period in late spring/early summer but they keep putting on more blooms as the summer wears on.


Not only are the plants beautiful when in full bloom but the seeds are used to make tinctures for womens' health issues covering all stages of life from puberty to menopause. Other names for the plant are Chasteberry Tree and Monk's Pepper because it is said to have an anti-aphrodisiac effect on men. When the seeds are fully ripe, they resemble black peppercorns.

Rosemary Gladstar's book "Herbal Healing for Women" and Susun Weed's book "Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way" provide the following information:
Vitex has a stimulating effect on the pituitary gland, which, among other functions, regulates and normalizes hormone production. It also increases production of luteinizing hormones, enhancing the progesteron cycle. At the same time, it inhibits the release of the follicle-stimulation hormone FSH and normalizes the estrogen cycle. It is beneficial in treating painful and irregular menstruation, infertility, PMS, menopausal problems and other hormonal imbalances. No side effects have ever been reported from extensive and extended use. It is one of the most useful herbs for women. It is a slow-acting herb and results become evident only after two or three months of daily use; permanent improvements requires about a year of daily use but the results are worth it.


Linking up with Wildcrafting Wednesday, Rural Thursday and Farmgirl Friday.

16 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

a blog friend of mine has sent me seeds from her vitex bush this summer! i am going to soak the seeds in the fridge over winter and plant here next spring! love these bushes/trees!

Marigold said...

I love Vitex. I had a lovely one in CA when I lived there. Alas, I don't think it is cold hardy enough to dwell here, however. :( How cool that yours cross pollinated.

Alica said...

This was really interesting to me. Very pretty, and I found the healthful uses to be fascinating. If only we knew, lots of the things we grow in our yards, gardens are so good for us!

Tombstone Livestock said...

I too have a Chaste tree, I keep finding new sprouts coming up between stepping stones on a patio, this year I went out and stripped seeds off and saved them. Now I am trying to figure out a spot that I can scatter the seeds and let them come up without sheep or goats eating them.

Renae said...

You have many healthy plants around you. Success to you in your savoring their benefits. have a wonderful evening.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I've heard of this but under one of the alternative names you mentioned. Interesting!

LindaG said...

Interesting post. Thank you!

Kristina said...

I look forward to hearing more about tinctures. It's the next thing on my goal list.

SweetLand Farm said...

That is a nice looking plant. Interesting information about it too. Learn something new everyday!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

How interesting! I want one now ;-)

Marie said...

This was a fascinating post, Candy! I am "into" native plants, BUT I also believe God put every plant on earth that we need for our health, and that all cures are also located in the plant world. This one sounds enormously beneficial. It is also very lovely, both the flowers and seeds! Have you used it? I would like to try it, if you have any extra I could buy from you.

Buttons said...

Wow I have never heard of it before sounds very interesting and is very pretty. Anything that attracts bees would be nice. B

edenhills said...

What beautiful pictures, and I love learning about the medicinal uses of plants. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't like my Iowa winters though.

Nancy Claeys said...

Love the idea of using your own plants for herbal remedies -- great post Candy!

Deb Crecelius said...

This sounds like an amazing plant.
Since I live in Zone 5, Vitex is definitely out of my range.
A women's drug without side effects?
I may have to look this up.
And, it's pretty!
Can't improve on that.

Kateri said...

I've made tincture from the dried berries (I bought them for that purpose)! I've never seen the shrub before--it sure is pretty. You are lucky to be able to grow it.