Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chastity via Vegetation

A month or so ago, we started noticing some lovely medium-sized trees around town that were blossoming in a wonderful shade of blue. The tree in the left foreground is an example, although I don't think you can see the blossoms very well, but the photo does give you an idea of the size of the mature tree.

I checked with my favorite plant guy down at the Las Cruces Farmers Market and found out that the tree is called a vitex. I bought a small one from him and planted it out front in the full sun.

Here is a close-up of one of the blossoms.
I wanted to know a bit more about the tree, and found that it is also called chaste tree, chasteberry, or monk's pepper. The leaves look a bit like cannabis, and, together with the flowers have a lively peppery fragrance. I like a plant with a bit of a story to it, and this one will add a lot to our gardening conversations: The Greeks used the leaves to "cool the heat of lust," and the plant parts were used as "anti-libido medicine by monks to aid their attempts to remain chaste."

Never mind what they say about older people; perhaps having one of these in the garden might add even more to our reputation around the neighborhood.


Beth said...

That's a lovely flower on the chasteberry. Its leaves do look a little like cannabis. You know, a cannabis plant would REALLY add to your neighborhood reputation. :-)

By the way, I was so glad to read that you came through the storm relatively unscathed. I hope that's the last of the scary storms for you for a while.

Deb said...

I know some parents of teenagers that might be interested in planting one of those trees!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

lol! Such an unusual plant. And it even says it can help with PMS symptoms. I might need to get one, too. Except they probably wouldn't thrive here because of our short summer and long winters.



EG Wow said...

This plant is totally new to me. Interesting blossom.

Webster said...

Hmmm. In this age of male enhancement drugs, perhaps you might know a few women who may like to brew some tea from the leaves! Or not. Just sayin'

WasSoggyInSeattle said...

So, in researching to see if it would survive in my soon-to-be new home, Texas. I found it is also called the Texas Lilac and seems to do very well there. I just may have to get one when I move. Thanks for sharing and "planting" the idea. HAHA

WasSoggyInSeattle said...

OK, so I looked more closely at your new plant and decided it looked an awful like 3 I have here at the rental in Bernalillo. My mom calls them mosquito bushes and SWEARS they ward off mosquitoes and should be planted closer to the house, preferably under windows and near doors.

Anyway, thought I'd pass it along.