Vitex trifolia (simpleleaf chastetree)
Simpleleaf chastetree is very common from East Africa to Tahiti in the Pacific, where it is grown as an ornamental and for medicinal use.
About this Species
This species is very common from East Africa to Tahiti in the Pacific. It is grown as an ornamental and for medicinal use.
Geography & Distribution
Habitat of Vitex trifolia; Mansinan Island, Indonesian New Guinea (Image: Rogier de Kok, RBG Kew)
Vitex trifolia is widespread from North Australia east to Tahiti and north via Indonesia and the Philippines to China, India and Sri Lanka. Also reported from East Africa and introduced on many Pacific islands in the Central Pacific and Hawaii.
Fruits of Vitex trifolia (Image: Rogier de Kok)
Vitex trifolia is a small tree or shrub up to 8 m tall. It has a smooth light grey to brown bark. The leaves consist of 3 or 5 smaller leaflets which are all connected at one point (like the fingers of a hand) and are elliptic and between 3 and 12 cm long. The underside is covered with white hairs. The purple to blue flowers consist of a tube with five lobes; the central lobe is bigger than the others. The four stamens greatly exceed the corolla tube. The fleshy globose fruits are black when mature and up to 7 mm in diameter.
Flowers of Vitex trifolia (Image: Rogier de Kok, RBG Kew)
Simpleleaf chastetree is grown as an ornamental.
Anecdotal reports suggest it is used for women’s health care throughout its range.
Vitex trifolia grow well on exposed coastal sand dunes. It likes moist, fertile, well-drained soils. Water well in the summer and avoid the extremes of soil moisture, neither drought nor water logging.
If propagating seeds, sow freshly collected seed in a mix of sand and coir. If propagating by cuttings, take them when the plants are not in flower or fruit (apical cuttings with at least two nodes). Cuttings should be rooted in a well-drained rooting medium such as perlite and coir under mist.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
- Callicarpa argentii
- Clerodendrum paniculatum (pagoda flower)
- Gmelina arborea (gamhar)
- Lamium album (white dead-nettle)
- Lamium maculatum (spotted dead-nettle)
- Lavandula dentata (fringed lavender)
- Lavandula minutolii
- Mentha suaveolens (apple mint)
- Ocimum basilicum (basil)
- Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil)
The birch-leaved bellflower is a large-flowered species found in north-east Turkey.
- newly discovered
- around the world
- of use
- ground breaking
- garden plants
- english garden
Plants & Fungi blogs from Kew
25 Jan 2013
He may be a Seed Morphologist but Wolfgang Stuppy of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank discovers there is more to the snake gourd than just some strange fruit and eccentric seeds.