Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Vitex agnus-castus L.

Frost hardy, spreading deciduous shrub with 5- or 7-palmate leaves, composed of aromatic, narrowly-elliptic leaflets, to 10cm long, and slender, terminal panicles, to 18cm long, of small, tubular, fragrant, lilac, blue or white flowers in autumn.  To 8m.  [RHSE, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Cultivated in Britain since 1570.  [JD].  ‘Agnus Castus, ot the Chaste Tree.  Vitex, or Agnus castus.  This tree grows about the bigness of a small Cherry Tree; the leaves are a dark green above, and whitish underneath; the flowers are a whitish purple, and ye seed a blackish grey.  It is a native of Italy, & is planted here in gardens, flowering the latter end of summer.  The leaves, flowers & seed are esteemed warming and drying; helps the hardness of the liver and spleen, expels wind & brings down ye Catamenia.  Formerly ye seed was much used to allay venereal heats & preserve chastity, but this age has left that medicine out of their Dispensatory as useless.’  [Blackwell pl.139/1837].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.1003/1845].


Published Feb 16, 2010 - 09:14 PM | Last updated Aug 01, 2010 - 03:20 PM

Figured are the palmate leaves and upright panicles of tiny lilac flowers.  Blackwell pl.139, 1737.

Vitex agnus-castus L. | Blackwell pl.139/1737 | BHL

Family Verbenaceae
Region of origin

Mediterranean to Central Asia

Common Name

Chaste tree, Tree of chastity

Name in the Camden Park Record

Vitex agnuscastus - Chaste tree

Confidence level high