Chaste tree – characteristics, cultivation and use

Chaste tree
Chaste tree

Chaste tree is in natural medicine considered as an important medicinal plant against women’s complaints. The perennial plant is often listed as a perennial, but is actually a semi-shrub and is often cultivated in our garden. There the chaste tree is not only bee pasture, but also a beloved late bloomer, that shows its blooms late in the summer, almost in the autumn.

Profile of chaste tree:

Scientific name: Vitex agnus-castus

Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)

Other names: vitex, chastetree, chasteberry, Abraham’s balm, lilac chastetree, monk’s pepper

Sowing time / Planting time: autumn or spring

Flowering period: June – October

Harvest time: autumn

Location: sunny

Soil quality: stony, sandy, nutrient rich,humous

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: menopause, PMS, circulatory disorders

Use as aromatic herb:

Plant characteristics and classification of chaste tree

Origin and occurrence of chaste tree

The chaste tree originally comes from the northern Mediterranean region. From there, it spread almost across the entire Mediterranean states to Central Asia. In most cases, the plant can there be found near the water by rivers, streams or reservoirs. Chaste tree usually colonizes nutrient-poor sites such as wastelands, sandy soils and debris and boulders.

Plant order of chaste tree

Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a member of the mint family, including the vervain, the lemon verbena or the Aztec sweet herb. From the genus Vitex are known today more than 200 species worldwide. Many of these species are found primarily in the tropics or subtropics.

Look and characteristics of the chastetree


The chaste tree is botanically a shrub that can reach heights of growth up to 5 meters. In most cases, however, the plant only grows between 1.5 and 2 meters. The deep and strong roots of the plant allow a firm hold in locations with rather loose soil.


The leaves of the chaste tree are formed lanceolate. The underside of the leaf is distinctly hairy in contrast to the leaf top. They are opposite and hand-shaped arranged in groups of five to seven leaves. The leaf color is strikingly green, with the top of the leaf slightly darker than the underside. The length of a leaf is between 5 and 10 cm (2 and 4 in).


During flowering, which is usually to be expected between the beginning of June and October, the plant produces white, pink, red, blue or purple flowers. These always exude a pleasant slightly sweet scent. Chaste tree flowers are hermaphrodite and contain several mostly whitish-colored stamens that grow out of the flower center. The stamp is usually markedly violet in color and usually darker than the petals.


The fruits are brownish / reddish-black colored, spherical and up to 4 mm (0.15 in) in size. Botanically they are one of the drupes. Each fruit always contains four seeds.

Flower of chaste tree
Flower of chaste tree

Chaste tree – cultivation and care

The cultivation of the plant is not always easy to accomplish.


Chaste tree necessarily needs sunny to full sun locations. It grows best near a protective house-wall or near a wall in the garden. The soil should be permeable, nutrient-rich and retain moisture. A sandy soil is more favorable than loamier. The earth should also be permeable.


It is quite possible to grow chaste tree by seeds, but there are some conditions to fulfill: relatively high temperatures and constant humidity are needed. In the field, sowing can already take place in autumn or spring. Since the plant may grow in width and depth, planting distances of about 50 to 100 cm (20 – 40 in) per plant should be kept. The first seedlings appear after about 14 to 21 days. However, easier is the sowing in preculture. Here, the seeds can be put in a room greenhouse from about mid-March in a substrate. The substrate should be mineral-rich. About a month after the first seedlings grew, the small plants can be replanted outdoors.


If a nutrient-rich soil is available, the chaste tree plants have only limited supply of additional fertilizer. It is recommended to treat the soil in the spring with compost or a little of an organic and nitrogen-based fertilizer. In more sandy soils more frequent fertilizer applications are usually necessary. It has to be taken into account that an excessively high supply of fertilizers causes a massive growth. This could cause that the resilience of the plant against cold and against pests go back.


Normal watering is enough to supply the chaste tree. On hot summer days, additional watering in the evening can sometimes be helpful. A full-grown chaste tree can survive short dry phases of up to four days.

Diseases and pests

It is a very robust plant, which is rarely attacked by pests. In exceptional cases, usually when the plant has been kept too dry for a long time, spider mites can attack the leaves and stems.

Use of chaste tree

Chaste tree in the kitchen

The fruits of the chaste tree have a pepper-like pungent taste, although the aroma is a little weaker. In the Middle Ages, chasteberry fruits were often used as a spice, especially in religious institutions. Small amounts can still be used today, but the real pepper should be preferred. The fruits can quickly have an effect on hormone regulation. Pregnant women should never use chasteberry as a spice.

Chaste tree as a medicinal herb

The chaste tree is considered today as one of the best medicinal plants for the treatment of numerous women’s diseases.

In the Middle Ages, chaste tree was widely known. The seed was crushed in monasteries and served in large doses as a spice to facilitate the austerity for monks and nuns. In small doses it does the opposite.

However, the most important purpose of the monk’s pepper in modern times is gynecology. Because it helps against both period problems and menopausal symptoms. This includes cycle disorders, PMS as well as menopausal disorders.

Chaste tree can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • circulatory disorders
  • estrogen dominance
  • hyperexcitability
  • hyperprolactinemia
  • mastodynia
  • menopause
  • menstrual irregularities
  • orchitis
  • pain during the period
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • prostatitis

In the naturopathyonly the fruits of the chaste tree are being used. Only these contain sufficient quantities of the relevant ingredients.

The usual dosage forms are mainly capsules and tablets. It is also possible to ingest chaste tree by using it as a spice in food. However, it must be noted that there are some significant quality differences and the amounts of active ingredients can therefore only be estimated very poorly. The preparation of a chaste tree tea, is not to be recommended. The active substances are very difficult extracted from the fruits, so that in most cases the effect is rather low.

It is recommended to take chaste tree products continuously for three months. If there are still complaints after the three months, however, consult a doctor.

Side effects and restrictions of use

Children under the age of 18 should not be given monk-pepper products. Insofar as the nursing flow is not disturbed in nursing mothers, the chamomile fruits should likewise not be consumed, as otherwise disturbances of the milk flow are to be expected. Users who receive dopamine agonists (for example, Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome), dopamine antagonists (for example, psychosis) or estrogen should first discuss the use with a doctor. In rare cases, itchy rashes can occur, which are characterized by redness and wheals.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Chaste tree – What is there to pay attention to

If chaste tree is to be grown in the garden, ready-made plants from retailers promise the best chance of success. However, you can also obtain seeds from various online retailers.

For the treatment of women’s complaints as mentioned above, whole fruits as well as ready-made products from the extracts are offered. In order to achieve a pharmacological effect, tablets or capsules should be used, which allow the intake of a daily dose of up to 40 mg.

Manufacturers recommending tea from fruits or leaves should be avoided if possible. This tea will most likely have little or no effect, as the required ingredients are difficult to extract with water.

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