What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

lilac chaste tree coppiced

on May 9, 2014
palmate leaves of Vitex agnus-castus

palmate leaves of Vitex agnus-castus

Pruning in the front yard, episode two: encouraged by the example of the Snail of Happiness, who commented that she’d coppiced her red hazel (Coryllus avellana) this week, I cut our chaste tree back to its stump or “stool.” It’s planted a few feet off the end of the driveway, and after two to three years of growth it blocks our view down the street. Since vitex responds well to coppicing (that is, the traditional agricultural practice of cutting back almost to the ground), when we feel we’re venturing forth on blind faith rather than sight, I go at it with my pruning saw.

I’m glad the treatment doesn’t hurt the Vitex agnus-castus (re-invigorates, rather), because I like the large shrub and find it interesting. A Mediterranean native, medieval sources report that the chaste tree or “chasteberry” was used to reduce sexual desire. Just chew the fruits or drink a tea of leaves and twigs—anyone want to try it for science? Actually, it does seem to affect levels of hormones secreted in the pituitary gland, and has long been used in traditional medicine to treat several female reproductive system conditions. I read that it’s prescribed by German doctors.

I was struck, as I snipped and sawed, by its fragrance. Like oregano, I thought, or a delicate tea. But I resisted the temptation to eat a leaflet.

This is all that's left of our vitex ... but don't be sad, it will spring up soon.

This is all that’s left of our vitex … but don’t be sad, it will spring up soon.

shedding style: prune
destination: the brush pile

Comments welcome … is something blocking your view that’s got to go?


One response to “lilac chaste tree coppiced

  1. […] I moved half a dozen that had sprouted up under the skirts of the crepe myrtle and lilac chaste tree. The three largest get to participate in my hugelkultur […]

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