Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vitex - the Chaste Tree family

Vitex

A very diverse family of mostly tropical yet also some temperate region plants which prefer moist, fertile, well drained soils. Most Vitex's do not like drought or flood but are extremely heat tolerant. They prefer sun or part shade and can be propagated from seed or softwood cuttings during early summer. Vitex are rarely bothered by insect pests or disease. Transplant in a way to protect the roots from wind and sun.

Vitex acuminata
A tropical member of the family native to northeast Australia. It is an excellent lawn tree in zone 10 and 11 and can reach up to 30 x 30 feet. The foliage is bright green and is like the Lilly Pilly in appearance. The white flowers appear in spring and are replaced with scarlet cherry like fruits.

Vitex altissima
A lumber tree native to India that can reach up to 120 feet in height with trunk diameter up to 7 feet. The leaves are composed of 3 leaflets up to 8 inches in length and the flower clusters are up to 9 inches in length.
Hardy zones 10 +

Vitex angus-castus ( Chaste Tree )
A small tree native from southern Europe to western Asia. It has also become naturalized in parts of the southeast U.S. The Chaste Tree is typically fast growing and reaches up to 20 feet in size. On ideal sites it can grow very fast and grow much larger. The record single year growth increase is 9 feet and the largest trees on record are up to 65 x 30 feet with a trunk diameter of 40 inches. The Chaste Tree is known to reach as much as 12 feet in only 3 years. It attains up to 8 feet in height if grown as a winter dieback perennial north of zone 7.
The foliage is generally deciduous but becomes evergreen in frost free tropical climates. The aromatic leaves are composed of 5 to 9 narrow gray-green ( sometimes shiny dark green ) leaflets up to 6 x 1.5 inches. The leaflets are downy below.
The fragrant scented flower panicles are long up to a foot long ( 18 inches in one variety ). They appear in summer and fall and in autumn are replaced by small purple berries.
Hardy zone 7 to 10 however may be grown as far north as zone 5 as a perennial. Moderately salt tolerant and is very heat tolerant up to 115 F. Very versatile, the Chaste Tree is tolerant of seashore conditions and alkaline soils. Deadheading spent flower spikes may encourage rebloom.

* photo taken on 4th of July 2010 in Washington, D.C.

* photo taken on July 10 2013 in Howard Co., MD

* photos taken on Sep 27 2013 in Laurel, MD

* photos taken on July 11 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst, Wash., DC

* photos taken on Aug 3 2014 @ National Zoo, Wash., DC


'Alba'
similar with white flowers. 'Silver Spires' is similar

* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* photos taken on Aug 15 2014 at Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, MD


'Blue Puffball'
A miniature, dense, rounded form, reaching up to 4 x 4 ( rarely over 3 ) feet.
The mid-green foliage is very clean and disease resistant.
The fragrant, deep blue flowers are borne mid-summer into early autumn.
Hardy zones 6 to 9.

'Delta Blues'
More compact in habit, reaching up to 10 x 10 feet, with deep purplish-blue flowers.

'Rosea'
Flowers are pink, otherwise similar.

'Shoal Creek'
Fragrant, blue-violet flower panicles up to 18 inches in length, are borne mid summer to early autumn.
The gray-green foliage is resistant to leaf spot.
It is similar in size and habit to the species.

* photo of unknown source on internet

* photos taken on 4th of July 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA







* photo taken on June 18 2013 in Columbia, MD

'Silver Spires'

* photo taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014


Vitex cofassus
A fast growing potentially invasive tropical tree native to Malaysia that can reach up to 131 feet in height and 6.5 feet in trunk diameter. The flowers are purple-blue.
Hardy in climates zone 10 and warmer.

Vitex divaricata
A rapid growing tropical tree native to the Caribbean. It is usually medium size though has been recorded reaching 100 x 65 feet with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. The up to 9 oblong leaflets are up to 9 x 3 inches in size. Hardy in climates zone 10 and warmer.

Vitex guameri
A tropical tree native to central America that can reach up to 90 feet in height and up to 3 feet in trunk diameter. Hardy in climates zone 10 and warmer.

Vitex heterophylla
A tropical species reaching up to 50 x 20 feet in size with a trunk diameter up to 2 feet.

Vitex keniensis
A fast growing large tree native to tropical east Africa. It ca neasily reach 80 feet and the largest on record is 130 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 10 feet. The leaves are composed of up to 5 ( rarely to 9 ) dark green leathery leaflets up to 10 x 3.5 inches. The flower clusters are up to 6 inches in length.
Hardy in climates zone 10 and warmer. This stately tree is now threatened with extinction in the wild due to environmental destruction and exploitation for its attractive grained wood. With a tall straight trunk; this is one of the tallest trees in its native Kenya and is sometimes called the "Meru Oak"

Vitex lucens ( Puriri )
A rounded spreading evergreen tree native to New Zealand that can reach up to 66 feet tall and wide with a trunk diameter to 5 feet. In New Zealands original old growth forests some reached much larger to 75 x 80 feet with trunk diameters up to 9 feet. Much of the originally widespread NZ lowland Puriri forest has been eliminated being victim of environmental destruction over the past few hundred years. The Puriri is a fast growing impressive tree that is also host to an amazing member of the insect world - the Puriri Moth which is a spectacular giant with a 6 inch wingspan.
The palmate leaves are composed of 5 wavy-edged oval leaflets, up to 5 x 2 inches, in size. The foliage is glossy deep green.
During fall and winter; the Puriri produces panicles of red flowers that are followed in the spring with scarlet berries, up to 0.8 inches wide.
Hardy zones 9 to 11

* photo of unknown source on internet


Vitex negundo
Fast growing ( to 8 feet in 3yrs in NC & DC ) this small tree can reach a maximum size of 36 x 27 ( rarely over 15 ) feet with a trunk diameter up to 1 foot. It is hardy from zone 7 to 10 though can be grown as an attractive foliage perennial as far north as zone 5b where it can grow 6.5 feet each season. Very tolerant of heat and drought.
It is native from the Phillipines through s. Asia to east Africa.
Its leaves are arranged into 3 or mostly 5 bright green leaflets that are downy white below and up to 5 x 1 inches in size. The toothed leaflets are smooth edged or sometimes slightly toothed. The foliage appears late in the spring and usually only turns brown before dropping in the fall.
The mauve colored flowers in summer are in large terminal panicles up to 8 inches in length. Removing old flower clusters will often cause increased new foliage growth as well as extending the flowering season.

* photo taken @ U.S. National Arboretum on Feb 2009


'Cannabeifolia'

* photos taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Feb 8 2015 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA


'Heterophylla'
Very attractive lush green to gray-green finely divided leaflets.
This cultivar is the hardiest of all Vitex having survived as a dieback perennial at zone 4b Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa, Ontario.

* photos taken on 4th of July 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


Vitex parviflora
Native to Hawaii; it is a very fast growing tropical tree reaching up to 35 feet in height and 6 inches in diameter in 4 years. Eventually it can grow very large reaching as much as 125 feet in height and up to 8.5 feet in trunk diameter. The leaves are composed of 3 leaflets up to 7 x 2 inches in size. The flower clusters are up to 8 inches long and are blue. Hardy zones 10 and warmer

Vitex pubescens
A very fast growing tropical tree reaching up to 7 feet tall and 0.5 inches in diameter in the first year. It can eventually grow tall up to 100 feet in height and 2.5 feet in trunk diameter. The up to 8 leaflets reach up to 5 inches in length.

Vitex rotundifolia ( Beach Vitex )

Closely related to Vitex trifolia except that it has a near prostrate ground covering habit and the foliage is simple ( meaning only 1 leaflet ). It is also native to southeast Asia and coastal areas of eastern Australia. The Beach Vite is great for stabilizing sand dunes and is very fast growing; reaching up to 4 x 12 + feet in 5 years. Some are known to reach as large as 6 x 15 feet though it is usually shorter in habit.
The rounded leaves are up to 2 x 1.5 inches in size.The silvery, deciduous leaves turn brown before dropping in the fall.
The flowers, up to 0.6 inches long, are bright blue.
It is hardy from zone 7a to 10 ( a clone native to beach dunes in Korea possibly hardy to 5 ) and is tolerant of clay, heat, drought and salt.

* photos taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


Vitex trifolia ( Arabian Lilac )
A subtropical tree native to southeast Asia and coastal areas of eastern Australia.
It is a moderate growing evergreen small tree that can reach as much as 25 x 36 feet in size. One is reported to have grown as a shrub to 8 feet in North Carolina. The leaves can either be singular ( simple ) or composed of up to 3 oblong leaflets each reaching up to 4 x 1 inches. The foliage is dark green above and downy white below. During the warmer months of the year fragrant light blue to purple flowers appear in terminal panicles to 7 inches long.
These are followed by small black berries.
Hardy zones 9 to 12 in full sun on well drained soil. It is tolerant of extreme heat and alkaline soils.

'Purpurea'
The foliage is light purple above and red-purple below.

3 comments:

  1. Hi wow what an amazing blog! I live in New Zealand and am wanting to grow a vitex agnus castus. (I have been taking it as a liquid extract for years for pmt etc)Would you know of anyone who has them in NZ, or could you perhaps point me in the right direction?

    Many thanks, Claire

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unfortunately I'm not very familiar with nurseries in New Zealand. I do think Vitex angus castus would thrive in parts of New Zealand where summers are warm to hot. I hope you found it or one of its cultivars.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you! Looking forward to posting more articles plus adding more content on edible landscaping.

    ReplyDelete