Botanical name: Vitex agnus-castus Family: Verbenaceae (Verbena family)
Synonyms: Agnus-castus vulgaris, Vitex agnus, Vitex integra, Vitex lupinifolia
Chasteberry is a deciduous shrub, 1-5 m tall. Leaves aare digitately compound, with leaflets 5-7, aromatic, narrowly-lanceshaped, stalked, hairless above and white-woolly beneath with tomentum obscuring the whole lower surface. Flowers are borne at branch-ends, in spike-like clusters, comprised of many-flowered cymes in narrow panicles, usually with additional spike-like inflorescences from the axils of the upper leaves. Flowers are small, pale violet, fragrant, 4 mm across. Sepal-cup is 3 mm long, 2 mm broad, bell-shaped, flat, triangulate to obscurely toothed, persistent. Flowers are 7-10 mm long, exceeding the sepal-cup; lower lobes hairless to slightly velvet-hairy at the base. Chasteberry fruit is spherical, 2-2.5 mm in diameter, protruding half-way above the slightly enlarged and expanded, persistent sepal-cup, hairless. Chasteberry is native to the Mediterranean region to Pakistan. Flowering: May-July.
Medicinal uses: The leaves and tender stem growth of the upper 10 cm (3.9 in), along with the flowers and ripening seeds, are harvested for alternative medicinal purposes. It is believed the berries are a tonic herb for both the male and female reproductive systems. Despite numerous studies, there is limited clinical evidence for the effectiveness of vitex plant extracts to manage premenstrual stress syndrome, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
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