02 Jul 2010

Vitex or Monk’s Pepper

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Vitex trees in full bloom in the rear of our old Virginia farmhouse.

I was previously unfamiliar with Vitex agnus-castus, also called the Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, or Monk’s Pepper.

Apparently, the leaves, seeds, and flowers were used, as reputedly saltpeter (KNO3) used to be used at prep schools and Ivy League colleges years ago, as an anaphrodisiac added to meals served in the dining halls of monasteries in the Middle Ages to facilitate continence.

The butterflies seem to like the blossoms about as well as they like buddleia.

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