I finally identified the large mystery shrub in my front yard! Actually it started out as a mystery shrub, but now it's become a mystery tree in the past two years while I wondered what it was and when to prune it.
It's a Vitex!
Prune in Febuary (in zone 7)!
Last spring I pruned out only the branches that would surely poke someone's eye out if he or she were walking on the outside of our front path.
I'm a relutant pruner. I know it's good for them, but it feels so horrible to slash perfectly healthy stems. sigh.
Fast Facts about Vitex: The showy violet flowers resemble the butterfly bush(Buddleia). But Vitex grow really big and attract bumble bees instead of butterflies. It's also known as the chaste tree which makes no sense to me, considering all the pollination I saw going on last summer. The bees really like this tree.
Another common name is the Hemp Tree, due to the shape of the leaves. If you're already stoned, it might look like hemp, but I don't really see much resemblance. Note to neighborhood potheads- do not smoke my tree! It will not get you high!