Mystery Plant Identified

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!


Nickie said...

monks used to use the berries..to help curb urges...which is why they call it Chaste Tree. Butterflies liked mine as well as bees when I had one in CA....

very drought tollorent plant with shallow roots...but a worthy plant!!! I miss it lots :)

Jessica Harwood said...

Thanks for explaining! I love garden folklore.

If anyone has any suggestions on pruning, let me know. The previous owners kept it hacked down to shrub size.

Anonymous said...

hey everybody, this is derek @ calloways nursery. i was reading and wanted to mention that vitex should be cut to the ground EVERY winter. i know it sounds horrible, but thats what to do. if you want a huge tree,(it can reach 20 ft)just prune it back as much as you can. dont worry, it'll be fine

Anonymous said...

Information is good.... ideas are great...

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