For those who seek a medicinal plant, Vitex fills the bill. it belonged to the official medicinal plants of antiquity and is mentioned in the works of Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Theophrast. Hippocrates in 4th Century BC recommended the plant "for injuries, inflammation and swelling of the spleen, and using the leaves in wine for hemorrhages and the "passing of afterbirth." Now I'm not promoting this, just passing off this tidbit of information for you. Vitex has also been cited for its astringent activity, and has been recommended for wild animal bites, swelling of the spleen and for dropsy.
This plant is a native of China and India, although long ago it became naturalized throughout the South. The early American nurseryman Peter Henderson stated that Vitex has been cultivated here since 1670. For those of us in the warmer part of the South, the "Lilac Chaste Tree" as it is somethimes known; has been the shrub of choice to mimic lilacs, which are restricted to cooler regions. I personally love this plant because it is deer proof!!!! Not one leaf or flower has crossed the lips of any of the many deer we have here on the property at Biscuit Hill. This may not seem like a big deal, but believe me it is. I have a rule here: "If it blooms and the deer don't eat it, it stays!" I don't care if "city folk" call the blooming plant a "weed" to me it's beautiful. I am going to try and get a few new Texas Lilac started over at the Main House after we trim this one. I read that they come up realitively easy from cuttings, so giving this a try. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Vitex is an excellent choice for a large shrub or small flowering tree in the smaller, modern suburban landscape. It does best in full sun and will grow in a variety of soils, provided they are well drained. After it has been established, the Vitexeric garden, where hot, dry surroundings prevail.
Like many members of the Vervain family, Vitex attracts butterflies and other insects. The newer strains have much improved varieties such as 'Montrose Purple', 'LeCompte', or the pink 'Salinas Pink' have spikes as long as 8 to 12 inches in length. Many aromatic black or brown seeds may be set, but if the spent spikes are cut off promptly after the first flowering the shrub will bloom again.
If you stay in one of the Main House rooms or suites, you can take the short walk over past the Alpaca pen to see this beauty. Of course, if you are staying in the Creekside Suite, all you have to do is look out your window, or gaze at it while on your porch swing.