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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Vitex (ancient Latin name for this or a similar shrub). Verbenaceae. Ornamental woody plants chiefly grown for their white, blue, or yellowish flowers produced in terminal spikes or panicles.

Deciduous or evergreen shrubs or trees: lvs. opposite, digitate, with 3-7, rarely with 1 lft.: fls. in often panicled, few- to many-fld. cymes; calyx campanulate, usually 5-toothed; corolla tubular-funnelform, with 5-lobed, oblique and slightly 2-lipped limb; stamens 4, 2 longer and 2 shorter ones: fr. a small drupe, with a 4-celled stone.—About 60 species are known, distributed through the subtropical and tropical regions of both hemispheres, few in the temperate regions. Some species, particularly V. altissima, and V. leucoxylon, in S. Asia are important timber trees.

The two species most often cultivated are shrubs or small trees with deciduous digitate leaves and lilac-blue or white flowers in terminal spikes or loose panicles appearing in summer and autumn. The hardiest seems to be V. Negundo var. incisa, which stands most ordinary winters as far north as Massachusetts. V. Agnuscastus is hardy as far north as New York, in sheltered positions. These species are particularly valuable for their late-appearing flowers. They grow in almost any kind of soil and prefer rather dry sunny situations. Most of the species are inhabitants of tropical and subtropical regions and only a few can be cultivated outdoors in warmer temperate regions. None of these tender kinds seems to be in cultivation in this country; in the Old World they are sometimes cultivated as greenhouse plants. They thrive in a sandy compost of peat and loam. Propagated by seeds sown in spring and by greenwood cuttings under glass; also by layers.

V. ilicifolia, A. Rich. Lvs. simple, short-stalked, oval, spiny-toothed: fls. in long-stalked, axillary, many-fld, cymes. Cuba.— V. Lindenii, Hook. f. Lfts. 3-5, elliptic or elliptic-obovate, glabrous fls. pale violet, in few-fld., axillary, long-stalked heads. Colombia. B.M. 6230.—V. lucens, T. Kirk (V. littoralis, A. Cunn.). Tree, to 60 ft., producing valuable hardwood: lvs. long-stalked; lfts. 3-5, elliptic, almost acuminate, glabrous: fls. in axillary panicles, abundant, dull red, 2-lipped. New Zeal.—V. trifolia, Linn. Lfts. usually 3, obovate or obovate-oblong, obtuse, entire: fls. blue, in terminal panicles. S. Asia. Polynesia. Var. unifoliolata, Schauer. With a solitary short-stalked lft.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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