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a genus of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs of the family Verbenaceae. There are more than 250 species, found mainly in the tropics and subtropics of both hemispheres. In the USSR there is one species, agnus castus (V’. agnus-castus}, also known as sacred vitex, or Abraham tree (since ancient times it has been considered a symbol of chastity). It grows wild in the Black Sea region, the Crimea, the Caucasus, and Middle Asia and is grown mainly as an ornamental in other southern countries as well. Vitex is a small tree (up to 10 m), growing more often in shrub form 1.5-4.0 m tall. The numerous small fragrant flowers are gathered in spiked-paniculate inflorescences. The shrub is a nectar plant. Woven goods are made from the young branches. The fruits contain volatile oils and are used as a spice. Some other Vitex species are grown as ornamentals, and many yield valuable wood.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV