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Vitex altissima L.f.jpg
Vitex altissima
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Viticoideae
L. [1]
Type species
Vitex agnus-castus
About 250 species
Synonyms [2]
  • MacrostegiaNees
  • NeorapiniaMoldenke
  • MailelouAdans.
  • LimiaVand.
  • AllasiaLour.
  • NephrandraWilld.
  • TripinnaLour.
  • ChrysomallumThouars
  • TripinnariaPers.
  • PyrostomaG.Mey.
  • WallrothiaRoth 1821 not Spreng. 1815
  • PsilogyneDC
  • CasarettoaWalp.
  • RapiniaMontrouz.
  • Agnus-castusTourn. ex Carrière
  • VarengevilleaBaill
  • PistaciovitexKuntze
  • ViticipremnaH.J.Lam
  • TsoongiaMerr.
  • ParavitexH.R.Fletcher

Vitex /ˈvtɛks/ [3] is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. [4] It has about 250 species. [5] [6] Common names include "chaste tree" or "chastetree", traditionally referring to V. agnus-castus but often applied to other species as well.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Lamiaceae family of plants

The Lamiaceae or Labiatae are a family of flowering plants commonly known as the mint or deadnettle family. Many of the plants are aromatic in all parts and include widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and perilla. Some species are shrubs, trees, or, rarely, vines. Many members of the family are widely cultivated, not only for their aromatic qualities, but also their ease of cultivation, since they are readily propagated by stem cuttings. Besides those grown for their edible leaves, some are grown for decorative foliage, such as Coleus. Others are grown for seed, such as Salvia hispanica (chia), or for their edible tubers, such as Plectranthus edulis, Plectranthus esculentus, Plectranthus rotundifolius, and Stachys affinis.


Species of Vitex are native throughout the tropics and subtropics, with a few species in temperate Eurasia. [2] [7]

In biogeography, a species is indigenous to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. The term is equivalent to the concept of native or autochthonous species. Every wild organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as indigenous. Outside this native range, a species may be introduced by human activity, either intentionally or unintentionally; it is then referred to as an introduced species within the regions where it was anthropogenically introduced.

Tropics region of the Earth surrounding the Equator

The tropics are the region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by The Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.4″ (or 23.43679°) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.4″ (or 23.43679°) S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth. The tropics are also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone. The tropics include all the areas on the Earth where the Sun contacts a point directly overhead at least once during the solar year - thus the latitude of the tropics is roughly equal to the angle of the Earth's axial tilt.


The subtropics are geographic and climate zones located roughly between the tropics at latitude 23.5° and temperate zones north and south of the Equator.

About 18 species are known in cultivation. Vitex agnus-castus and Vitex negundo are often grown in temperate climates. [8] About six others are frequently grown in the tropics. [9] Most of the cultivated species serve as ornamentals. Some provide valuable lumber. The flexible limbs of some species are used in basket weaving. [7] Some of the aromatic species are used medicinally [9] [10] or to repel mosquitos. [9]

<i>Vitex agnus-castus</i> species of plant

Vitex agnus-castus, also called vitex, chaste tree, chasteberry, Abraham's balm, lilac chastetree, or monk's pepper, is a native of the Mediterranean region. It is one of the few temperate-zone species of Vitex, which is on the whole a genus of tropical and sub-tropical flowering plants. Theophrastus mentioned the shrub several times, as agnos (άγνος) in Enquiry into Plants. It has been long believed to be an anaphrodisiac – leading to its name as chaste tree – but its effectiveness for such action remains unproven.

<i>Vitex negundo</i> species of plant

Vitex negundo, commonly known as the Chinese chaste tree, five-leaved chaste tree, or horseshoe vitex, is a large aromatic shrub with quadrangular, densely whitish, tomentose branchlets. It is widely used in folk medicine, particularly in South and Southeast Asia.

Ornamental plant plant that is grown for decorative purposes

Ornamental plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects, as houseplants, cut flowers and specimen display. The cultivation of ornamental plants is called floriculture, which forms a major branch of horticulture.

The genus Vitex was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. [11] Vitex was the name used by Pliny the Elder for Vitex agnus-castus. It is derived from the Latin vieo, meaning to weave or to tie up, a reference to the use of Vitex agnus-castus in basketry. [12]

Carl Linnaeus Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist

Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus.

<i>Species Plantarum</i> book by Carl Linnæus

Species Plantarum is a book by Carl Linnaeus, originally published in 1753, which lists every species of plant known at the time, classified into genera. It is the first work to consistently apply binomial names and was the starting point for the naming of plants.

Pliny the Elder Roman military commander and writer

Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and friend of emperor Vespasian.

Vitex is one of several genera that was transferred from Verbenaceae to Lamiaceae in the 1990s as a result of phylogenetic studies of DNA sequences. It is the largest genus in the subfamily Viticoideae of Lamiaceae. [5] Taxon sampling in molecular phylogenetic studies has never been sufficient to test the monophyly of Viticoideae, but it is generally thought to be an unnatural group. [13] The subfamily is probably diphyletic, with Premna , Gmelina , and Cornutia constituting one clade, and with Vitex, Petitia, Pseudocarpidium, and Teijsmanniodendron constituting the other. [14]

Verbenaceae family of plants

The Verbenaceae are a family — the verbena family or vervain family — of mainly tropical flowering plants. It contains trees, shrubs, and herbs notable for heads, spikes, or clusters of small flowers, many of which have an aromatic smell.

Research formal work undertaken systematically to increase the stock of knowledge

Research comprises "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. Research projects can be used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school research project, they can be used to further a student's research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities, artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner research, life, technological, etc.

In biological classification, a subfamily is an auxiliary (intermediate) taxonomic rank, next below family but more inclusive than genus. Standard nomenclature rules end subfamily botanical names with "-oideae", and zoological names with "-inae".


Vitex is a genus of shrubs and trees, from 1 to 35m tall. Some species have whitish bark that is characteristically furrowed. Leaves are opposite, usually compound. The fruit is a drupe. [15]

Shrub type of plant

A shrub or bush is a small- to medium-sized woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. They are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems and shorter height, and are usually under 6 m (20 ft) tall. Plants of many species may grow either into shrubs or trees, depending on their growing conditions. Small, low shrubs, generally less than 2 m (6.6 ft) tall, such as lavender, periwinkle and most small garden varieties of rose, are often termed "subshrubs".

Tree Perennial woody plant with elongated trunk

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a woody trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are just over 3 trillion mature trees in the world.

Drupe fleshy fruit with hard inner layer (endocarp or stone) surrounding the seed

In botany, a drupe is an indehiscent fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a single shell of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside. These fruits usually develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries. The definitive characteristic of a drupe is that the hard, "lignified" stone is derived from the ovary wall of the flower—in an aggregate fruit composed of small, individual drupes, each individual is termed a drupelet and may together form a botanic berry.


In 2009, a molecular phylogenetic study showed that three small genera, Paravitex, Viticipremna, and Tsoongia are embedded in Vitex. These three genera were duly sunk into synonymy with Vitex. [14]

It is possible that Pseudocarpidium, Petitia, and Teijsmanniodendron are nested within Vitex. Sampling in the 2009 study was not sufficient to determine the phylogenetic position of these genera. The relationships of Teijsmanniodendron to these genera was not discussed in a revision of Teijsmanniodendron in 2009. [16]

Selected species

Vitex cannabifolia flowers Vitex cannabifolia1.jpg
Vitex cannabifolia flowers
Vitex chrysocarpus fruit and autumn leaves Vitex chrysocarpus MS 10225.jpg
Vitex chrysocarpus fruit and autumn leaves

Related Research Articles

<i>Uncaria</i> genus of plants

Uncaria] of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. It has about 40 species. Their distribution is pantropical, with most species native to tropical Asia, three from Africa and the Mediterranean and two from the neotropics. They are known colloquially as gambier, cat's claw or uña de gato. The latter two names are shared with several other plants. The type species for the genus is Uncaria guianensis.

<i>Leonotis</i> genus of plants

Leonotis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. One species, Leonotis nepetifolia, is native to tropical Africa and southern India. It is naturalized throughout most of the tropics. The other species are endemic to southern + eastern Africa.

<i>Stachys</i> genus of plants

Stachys is one of the largest genera in the flowering plant family Lamiaceae. Estimates of the number of species in the genus vary from about 300, to about 450. The type species for the genus is Stachys sylvatica. Stachys is in the subfamily Lamioideae. Generic limits and relationships in this subfamily are poorly known.

<i>Clinopodium</i> genus of plants

Clinopodium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. It is in the tribe Mentheae of the subfamily Nepetoideae, but little else can be said with certainty about its phylogenetic position.

Volkameria genus of plants

Volkameria is a genus of flowering plants in the family; Lamiaceae. It is pantropical in distribution. Many of the species are found in coastal habitats.

<i>Clerodendrum</i> genus of plants

Clerodendrum is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. Its common names include glorybower, bagflower and bleeding-heart. It is currently classified in the subfamily Ajugoideae, being one of several genera transferred from Verbenaceae to Lamiaceae in the 1990s, based on phylogenetic analysis of morphological and molecular data.

<i>Raukaua</i> genus of plants

Raukaua is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araliaceae. It has an austral distribution, being indigenous to southern Argentina and Chile, as well as New Zealand and the island of Tasmania.

<i>Guettarda</i> genus of plants

Guettarda is a plant genus in the family Rubiaceae. Most of these plants are known by the common name Velvetseed. Estimates of the number of species range from about 50 to 162. Most of the species are neotropical. Twenty are found in New Caledonia and one reaches Australia. A few others are found on islands and in coastal areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Kohautia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. They are native to tropical areas of Asia, Africa, and Madagascar. Thirty-one species are known. The type species for the genus is Kohautia senegalensis.

<i>Oxera</i> genus of plants

Oxera is a genus of flowering plants in the family Labiatae / Lamiaceae native to Vanuatu and New Caledonia in the western Pacific.

<i>Collinsonia</i> genus of plants

Collinsonia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. It is native to East Asia and eastern North America. It was named for the English botanist Peter Collinson (1694–1768) by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. It is in the tribe Elsholtzieae, a small tribe of only 5 genera. In order of their number of species, they are Elsholtzia, Mosla, Collinsonia, Perilla, and Perillula.

<i>Conradina</i> genus of plants

Conradina is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Its common name is false rosemary, or rarely, short leaf rosemary. There are 7 species of Conradina, all native to the southeastern United States. Conradina verticillata grows on the Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky and Tennessee. The other five grow mainly in Florida. All of the species are closely related and there is some doubt about whether they are all separate. Most species occupy xeric habitats with well-drained soils composed of white sand. The genus Conradina was established by Asa Gray in 1870. It was named for the American botanist Solomon White Conrad.

<i>Rotheca</i> genus of plants

Rotheca is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. Estimates of the number of species in the genus vary from about 35 to as many as 60. Three of the species are native to tropical Asia, with the rest occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. The type species for the genus is Rotheca serrata. It had originally been named Rotheca ternifolia, but this name is now considered illegitimate.

<i>Vitex rotundifolia</i> species of plant

Vitex rotundifolia, the roundleaf chastetree or beach vitex is a species of Vitex that is native to seashores throughout the Pacific. Its range includes continents and islands stretching from India east to Hawaii and from Korea south to Australia. This woody perennial plant typically grows approximately 1 m in height. It has a sprawling growth habit and produces runners that root regularly at nodes. This rooting pattern allows the plant to spread rapidly. At maturity, V. rotundifolia produces blue-purple flowers that are borne in clusters and ultimately yield small brown-black fruits. Its leaves are rounded at the tips with green upper surfaces and silver lower surfaces. While the plant is a seashore obligate, it grows over a wide latitude range. It has been used for medicinal purposes throughout its native range. More recently, it was imported to the eastern United States where it has become a seashore invasive. Control efforts are presently underway to protect the fragile beach dune ecosystem.

Viticoideae subfamily of plants

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<i>Kadua</i> genus of plants

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<i>Hymenodictyon</i> genus of plants

Hymenodictyon is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. It has about 30 species. All are native to the Old World. The wood of Hymenodictyon orixense is soft and has limited use, mostly for boxes. The type species for Hymenodictyon is Hymenodictyon orixense.


  1. "Genus: Vitex L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-09-10. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  2. 1 2 Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. "Vitex". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. List of Genera in Lamiaceae. At: Peter F. Stevens. 2001 onwards. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website At: Missouri Botanical Garden Website. (see External links below).
  5. 1 2 Raymond M. Harley, Sandy Atkins, Andrey L. Budantsev, Philip D. Cantino, Barry J. Conn, Renée J. Grayer, Madeline M. Harley, Rogier P.J. de Kok, Tatyana V. Krestovskaja, Ramón Morales, Alan J. Paton, and P. Olof Ryding. 2004. "Labiatae" pages 167-275. In: Klaus Kubitzki (editor) and Joachim W. Kadereit (volume editor). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants volume VII. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN   978-3-540-40593-1
  6. Vitex In: Index Nominum Genericorum. In: Regnum Vegetabile (see External links below).
  7. 1 2 David J. Mabberley. 2008. Mabberley's Plant-Book third edition (2008). Cambridge University Press: UK.
  8. Anthony J. Huxley, Mark Griffiths, and Margot Levy (editors). 1992. The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. The Macmillan Press Limited, London; The Stockton Press, New York.
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  10. Tadzabia K, Maina HM, Maitera ON, Osunlaja AA (2013). "Elemental and Phytochemical Screening of Vitex Doniana Leaves and Stem Bark in Hong Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Nigeria" (PDF). International Journal of Chemical Studies. 1 (3): 165–172.
  11. Carolus Linnaeus. 1753. Species Plantarum 2:706. Laurentii Salvii. (see External Links below).
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  13. Systematics of Lamiaceae Subfamily Viticoideae. At: Website of Kew Gardens. (see External links below).
  14. 1 2 Gemma L.C. Bramley, Félix Forest, and Rogier P.J. de Kok. 2009. "Troublesome tropical mints: re-examining generic limits of Vitex and relations (Lamiaceae) in South East Asia". Taxon58(2):500-510.
  15. "Vitex Linn.". Manual of the New Zealand Flora.
  16. Rogier P.J. de Kok, Go Rusea, and Abdul Latiff. 2009. "The Genus Teijsmanniodendron Koord. (Lamiaceae)". Kew Bulletin64(4):587-625.