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Chasteberry Tree

AKA:

Vitex agnus-castus in the L. Family: Lamiaceae. It is commonly known as the Chasteberry Tree but also as Vitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Wild Lavender, Hemp Tree, Lilac Chaste Tree, or Monk's Pepper, is a native of the Mediterranean and Western Asia.

Propagation:

It can reach up to 16-22 feet in height hand has palm shaped dark green leaves with a silvery underside and purple flowers that grow in pinnacles similarly to the Lilac. It can be grown from cuttings but can propagate itself with dropped seeds. It grows best in warmer climates but the Midwest can and does support growth as it will die back to the ground in winter but come back each spring bigger. It is fairly drought resistant is a pollinator attractor. Lilac does not like the intense summer heat and the Chaste Berry Tree thrives even in the harsh summer sun and more tropical types of environments. It only needs to be fertilized every couple of years and does not need to be watered very often. It grows best in a location protected from the wind but in full sun. It will thrive in a container as well if space is an issue. There is a wonderful step-by-step instructional found at https://www.gardenguides.com/110790-propagate-vitex.html that will walk you through getting started.


History/Folklore:

Ancients believed it to be an anaphrodisiac (lowers libido), hence the name chaste tree. According to gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu the reason the Chaste tree got her peculiar name is from the “Roman book, Naturalis Historia.” It was written in the first century by Pliny the Elder who was a naturalist, writer and military commander at the time. He noticed that “women in Athens kept branches of the tree under their beds during the feast of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain, and fertility. These young women believe the leaves of the plant would help them remain pure, thus the "chastetree".” During the festival of Thesmorphia, in honor of the Goddess Demeter, sex was forbidden, therefore Athenian women placed Chaste leaves and branches on their beds to dissuade men from making advances upon them. Similarly, maidens yet without partners wore the flowers to stay chaste. Pliny, in his Historia Naturalis, reports Athenian women left their husbands to remain ritually chaste. The Chaste Berry was considered sacred by the Greek and Romans and women often wore the blooms as crowns during various festivals. Today herbal healers believe the use of the Chaste berries to increase fertility and sex drive and support balancing one’s sexuality. It has been associated with protection, Fertility Magick, Goddess Energy, Sex Magick and healing. This beautiful tree/bush was brought to the U.S. and cultivated in the south during the 1670’s and is popular in the south as a replacement for lilac.


Medicinal:

The medicinal uses are amazing for us ladies as it has a long history used as a folk remedy for numerous female issues. The Chaste berry is helpful for reproductive system health by assisting with PMS symptoms, Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Infertility in women, heavy menstrual periods and menopausal symptoms just to start. Do not worry gentlemen! You are not left out on this one. The berries from this tree are also good for helping with acne, benign prostatic hyperplasia as well as migraines and various joint conditions. This berry can be infused in drinks, teas and tinctures to be taken orally.


***It is suggested to not be used by pregnant or lactating women or in large doses as it can cause dizziness, gastrointestinal upset and headaches.***


Spiritual:

The berries are dried, ground up as a powder incense and used in Fertility/Sex magik, manifest Goddess Energy and used in protection workings. It has been associated with the Greek Goddess, Hera who is the protectress of the home, marriage, and fidelity, and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, fertility and the sacrament of marriage.

Summary:

The Chasteberry Tree is a beautiful twin to the Lilac and is obviously very significant to our feminine energies both physically and spiritually. While I caution using it without your doctors supervision for female reproductive health, I believe that all of the maidens, mothers and crones can benefit in innumerable ways from this beautiful creation that our earth has given us. Both physically and spiritually we can utilize the properties and energy given to us by this wonder of nature. While some may be skeptical of ancient medicine, and sometimes rightfully so, we can all learn a lot from our ancient ancestors and the wisdom they gathered over the millions of years we have grown and evolved in this universe. Take some time to ponder the wonderful and magical ways nature is here to take care of us. Embrace it! Fall in love with it.

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