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Uses

Edible uses

Notes

The fruit is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute[1][2][3][4]. The aromatic leaves are also used as a spice[4][5]. This plant forms one of the ingredients of the legendary Moroccan spice mixture 'ras el hanout'[4]. Unfortunately, the seed is very unlikely to be produced in Britain[K].

Unknown part

Material uses

A perfume is made from the flowers[5].

Young stems are used in basket making[1][2][3]. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves, the seed and the roots[3][6].

Wood - hard, close grained[7].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[8].

The seeds and fruits are anaphrodisiac, aphrodisiac, galactogogue, ophthalmic, sedative, stomachic, women's complaints[9][6][10]. Prolonged usage restores corpus luteum function[10]. Unfortunately, the berries are unlikely to be produced in the British climate[K]. 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[11]. 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[11]. 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[12]. The berries are considered to be an aphrodisiac[9], though other reports say that they are anaphrodisiac[13][1]. 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].

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[14].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse. The seed does not need pre-treatment[15]. Germination is usually free and quick[15]. 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, July/August in a frame. Good percentage[16].

Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, November in a cold frame[15].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Vitex agnus-castus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Prefers a light well-drained loamy soil in a warm sunny position sheltered from cold drying winds[17][18]. Succeeds in dry soils. Intolerant of water-logging[19].

Hardy to about -10°c, this species only succeeds outdoors in the milder parts of Britain[20][13], though it grows well on a wall at Kew[13]. 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[21]. The plants failed to open their flowers on our Cornish trial ground even after a very hot summer[K]. 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]. A very ornamental plant[20], there are some named varieties[21]. The whole plant is aromatic, the leaves and stems are strongly aromatic[22], the flowers are deliciously scented[23] and the dried seeds have a pungent lemony perfume[23]. This species has long been regarded as a symbol of chastity[1].

Flowers are produced at the ends of the current year's growth[19]. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring and should consist of cutting out dead wood and shortening last year's flowering branches[21].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Vitex agnus-castus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Vitex agnus-castus.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Vitex agnus-castus
Genus
Vitex
Family
Verbenaceae
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
7
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    3 x 3 meters
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    References

    1. ? 1.01.11.21.31.41.51.6 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.22.3 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.13.23.33.4 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.3 Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292780206 (1982-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.3 Niebuhr. A. D. Herbs of Greece. Herb Society of America. (1970-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Gamble. J. S. A Manual of Indian Timbers. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh (1972-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.2 Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    11. ? 11.011.111.2 Bartram. T. Agnus Castus - ()
    12. ? 12.012.1 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.113.213.313.4 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.115.2 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    16. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    17. ? Arnold-Forster. Shrubs for the Milder Counties. ()
    18. ? 18.018.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Davis. B. Climbers and Wall Shrubs. Viking. ISBN 0-670-82929-3 (1990-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    21. ? 21.021.121.2 Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls Collins ISBN 0-00-219220-0 (1983-00-00)
    22. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
    23. ? 23.023.1 Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
    24. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-50

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