Hackfalls Arboretum – Tiniroto, Gisborne NZ

Saturday, 2012 March 3

Vitex agnus-castus

Filed under: Oak Paddock,Vitex agnus-castus — Dick Bos @ 6:00 pm

Ever heard of Vitex agnus-castus, the chaste tree? It’s from southern Europe. Yeah. Wikipedia gives the answers, again (although there is nothing like a botanical description of the species in the lemma, and the section “garden description” is still empty): already Pliny the Elder named it!

Vitex agnus-castus at Hackfalls Arboretum, Tiniroto, Gisborne NZ

There is one in the oak paddock of our arboretum! It’s growing quite wild in all directions. Does it need any pruning? It’s one of the few trees that are flowering now. The flowers remind us a little bit of Buddleja.

Vitex agnus-castus at Hackfalls Arboretum, Tiniroto, Gisborne NZ

The shrub has very old associations with chastity. In ancient Greece and Rome women used the flowers for adornment, and as a symbol of chastity. In the Middle Ages monks chewed the berries to make it easier to maintain their celibacy. Well. The berries are not ripe yet, and I do not live in the Middle Ages…….

Vitex agnus-castus at Hackfalls Arboretum, Tiniroto, Gisborne NZ

We’ll just enjoy the shrub for it’s beauty.

Vitex agnus-castus at Hackfalls Arboretum, Tiniroto, Gisborne NZ

Vitex agnus-castus at Hackfalls Arboretum, Tiniroto, Gisborne NZ

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