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Useful Temperate Plants

Vitex agnus-castus

L.

Verbenaceae


The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Agnus Castus

No Image.

General Information

Vitex agnus-castus is a Deciduous Shrub up to 3.00 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

S. Europe.

Habitat

Damp places by streams and on the littoral[
45
Title
Flowers of Greece and the Balkans.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1980
ISBN
0-19-217626-9
Description
A good pocket flora, it also lists quite a few plant uses.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *  *
HabitDeciduous Shrub
Height3.00 m
Growth RateMedium
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Prefers a light well-drained loamy soil in a warm sunny position sheltered from cold drying winds[
49
Title
Shrubs for the Milder Counties.
Publication
 
Author
Arnold-Forster.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Trees and shrubs that grow well in Cornwall and other mild areas of Britain. Fairly good, a standard reference book.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Succeeds in dry soils. Intolerant of water-logging[
202
Title
Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Davis. B.
Publisher
Viking.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-670-82929-3
Description
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
].
Hardy to about -10°c, this species only succeeds outdoors in the milder parts of Britain[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
], though it grows well on a wall at Kew[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. Plants only flower freely in a warm summer, so they are best grown against a sunny wall even in areas of the country where they are hardy[
219
Title
Gardening on Walls
Publication
 
Author
Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1983
ISBN
0-00-219220-0
Description
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
]. The plants failed to open their flowers on our Cornish trial ground even after a very hot summer[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The flowers are produced so late in the season that they are unlikely to produce viable seed in this country even if they flower properly[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
A very ornamental plant[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
], there are some named varieties[
219
Title
Gardening on Walls
Publication
 
Author
Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1983
ISBN
0-00-219220-0
Description
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
]. The whole plant is aromatic, the leaves and stems are strongly aromatic[
182
Title
Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7195-5043-2
Description
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
], the flowers are deliciously scented[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
] and the dried seeds have a pungent lemony perfume[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
].
This species has long been regarded as a symbol of chastity[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].
Flowers are produced at the ends of the current year's growth[
202
Title
Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Davis. B.
Publisher
Viking.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-670-82929-3
Description
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
]. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring and should consist of cutting out dead wood and shortening last year's flowering branches[
219
Title
Gardening on Walls
Publication
 
Author
Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1983
ISBN
0-00-219220-0
Description
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
].

Edible Uses

The fruit is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The aromatic leaves are also used as a spice[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
227
Title
Trees of North Texas
Publication
 
Author
Vines. R.A.
Publisher
University of Texas Press.
Year
1982
ISBN
0292780206
Description
A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses.
]. This plant forms one of the ingredients of the legendary Moroccan spice mixture 'ras el hanout'[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Unfortunately, the seed is very unlikely to be produced in Britain[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

Agnus castus has been used for thousands of years for its beneficial affect on the female hormonal system. Modern research has confirmed this use, the seeds being used to restore balanced functioning to the female reproductive system[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].
The seeds and fruits are anaphrodisiac, aphrodisiac, galactogogue, ophthalmic, sedative, stomachic, women's complaints[
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
,
148
Title
Herbs of Greece.
Publication
 
Author
Niebuhr. A. D.
Publisher
Herb Society of America.
Year
1970
ISBN
-
Description
A pleasant little book about Greek herbs.
,
165
Title
The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
Publication
 
Author
Mills. S. Y.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent small herbal.
]. Prolonged usage restores corpus luteum function[
165
Title
The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
Publication
 
Author
Mills. S. Y.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent small herbal.
]. Unfortunately, the berries are unlikely to be produced in the British climate[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
The berries of this plant have a range of medicinal actions but possibly the most important is its ability to rectify hormonal imbalances caused by an excess of oestrogen and an insufficiency of progesterone[
224
Title
Agnus Castus
Publication
 
Author
Bartram. T.
Publisher
-
Year
 
ISBN
-
Description
A leaflet that summarizes the medicinal virtues of Vitex agnus-castus.
]. It acts upon the pituitary gland, reducing the production of certain hormones and increasing the production of others, shifting the balance in favour of the gestagens. Thus it has a wide application of uses in malfunctions of the feminine reproductive system and has been used with great effect in restoring absent menstruation, regulating heavy periods, restoring fertility when this is caused by hormonal imbalance, relieving pre-menstrual tension and easing the change of the menopause[
224
Title
Agnus Castus
Publication
 
Author
Bartram. T.
Publisher
-
Year
 
ISBN
-
Description
A leaflet that summarizes the medicinal virtues of Vitex agnus-castus.
]. Some caution is advised since excessive doses can cause a nervous disorder known as formication, which manifests as a sensation of insects crawling over the skin[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
The berries are considered to be an aphrodisiac[
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
], though other reports say that they are anaphrodisiac[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. The reason for this apparent disagreement is that the berries have a regulating effect on the body and so are likely to increase sexual activity in those who are not very active in this area whilst reducing it in those who are very active[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
The fresh berries are pounded to a pulp and used in the form of a tincture for the relief of paralysis, pains in the limbs, weakness etc[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed does not need pre-treatment[
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
]. Germination is usually free and quick[
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of the following year.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame. Good percentage[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
].
Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, late autumn in a cold frame[
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
].

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