chaste tree


: a large shrub or small tree (Vitex agnus-castus) that has aromatic foliage and clusters of usually violet to purple flowers and is native to southern Europe and western Asia but has become naturalized in warmer regions
Chaste tree is drought resistant and hardy in Zones 7 and 8 … it can grow up to 15 to 20 feet high and wide.Chris O'Bryan, Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), 29 July 2011
Vitex goes by the names chaste tree and monk's pepper. Both stem from its long use in Europe, where it is native, as a medicinal herb to lower the libido …Dan Gill, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 28 May 2011
or chaste tree berry : an extract of the fruit of the chaste tree used in herbal remedies (such as those used to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause) : agnus castus
… the limited evidence available looks promising for certain dietary interventions and chaste tree herbal supplement.Ravinder Mamtani, Poughkeepsie (New York) Journal, 16 Mar. 2003
… a "back-to-basics" approach emphasizing the educated use of herbs such as black cohosh, chaste tree berry and red clover tea.Stephanie Irwin, Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, 17 Nov. 2007

Note: Chaste tree is also called agnus castus, chasteberry, hemp tree, monk's pepper, and vitex.

Word History


translation of Latin agnus castus, by folk etymology (influence of Latin agnus lamb) from Greek agnos (associated with chastity rites because of influence of hagnos chaste, sacred)

First Known Use

circa 1562, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chaste tree was circa 1562

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Cite this Entry

“Chaste tree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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