The vitex tree also goes by the name of chaste tree, sage tree, hemp tree, lilac chaste tree and Indian spice tree. The tree is native to India and China but now grows throughout much of the Deep South after its introduction to America around 1670.
The height of the vitex tree can reach 20 feet, and it is often as wide as it is high. The tree’s dimensions make it perfect as a centerpiece in a garden or on a lawn.
The flowers of the vitex bloom from May until September and attract a variety of insects as well as many types of hummingbirds.
Vitex tree leaves are palmately compound, which means there are five to seven leaflets on one leaf stem arranged in a manner that looks like fingers on a hand.
The flowers of a vitex tree grow in clusters on the branches, with most being some shade of purple. They eventually develop into a fruit that contains seeds used as seasonings.
In many parts of the South, the vitex tree takes the place of lilacs since its resemblance to them is so strong. The leaves also closely mimic those of marijuana or hemp.
Very few pests or diseases effect a vitex tree, although such things as root rot and roundworms called nematodes can weaken it.