Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
I’ve been admiring the lovely chaste tree for some time, but only planted my own last summer. It was about two feet high and had only two stems on it at that time. This year, it has branched out like crazy and is close to five feet tall. The flowers are a wonderful shade of lavender, and to me, this little tree makes up for the fact that we can’t grow buddleia (butterfly bush) in central Florida worth a diddly.
The chaste tree is so named because in medieval times, it was believed you could make a potion from it that would curb the libido. Oh, those medieval husbands! Apparently, they were always worried about what their wives would get up to while they were away crusading or jousting or whatever the heck they were doing. This would have been another tool in their arsenal—along with the infamous chastity belt, I guess—to control their women-folk. (It’s totally erroneous, of course! As if!!) Seems to me, it would have been easier just to stay home and be good husbands, but what do I know of those times? I’m old . . . but not THAT old! 🙂
I particularly like how my tree’s lavender blooms look next to my Abraham Darby rose. And when the plumbago between them is flowering, I have a nice little pink and blue bed going there. So far, the tree seems to be easy to care for, although it is deciduous and loses every leaf in winter, so you would want to keep that in mind when you decide where to plant yours. (You will be getting one, won’t you? How can you resist?)
Here are some closer views.
And one more. Notice the monarch butterfly? I never saw it until I opened the picture at 100%. I knew bumblebees were fond of these flowers. Now I know butterflies like them as well. What could be better?
My plan is to limb the tree as it grow, so I get a nice “umbrella,” and can grow smaller plants beneath it. These trees usually top out at ten to twenty feet, though I’ve never seen one around here more than twelve or so. I’m looking forward to watching it grow.
Do you have a chaste tree in your yard? How has it done for you? Do you have one of the lavender or blue varieties, or do you grow the pink or white ones? Inquiring minds wanna know!