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Vitex rotundifolia, a shrub planted on eastern US beaches for erosion control.
Origin: From the genus name Vitex, from vitex.
Vitex is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae Martynov, nom. cons.. It has about 250 species. Its type species is Vitex agnus-castus. There is no universal English name, though "chastetree" is common for many species. Generally, they are simply called vitex however. Species of Vitex are native throughout the tropics and subtropics, with a few species in temperate Eurasia. About 18 species are known in cultivation. Vitex agnus-castus and Vitex negundo are often grown in temperate climates. About six others are frequently grown in the tropics. Most of the cultivated species serve as ornamentals. Some provide valuable lumber. The flexible limbs of some species are used in basket weaving. Some of the aromatic species are used medicinally or to repel mosquitos. The genus Vitex was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Vitex was the name used by Pliny the Elder for Vitex agnus-castus. It is derived from the Latin vieo, meaning to weave or to tie up, a reference to the use of Vitex agnus-castus in basketry. Vitex is one of several genera that was transferred from Verbenaceae to Lamiaceae in the 1990s as a result of phylogenetic studies of DNA sequences. It is the largest genus in the subfamily Viticoideae of Lamiaceae. Taxon sampling in molecular phylogenetic studies has never been sufficient to test the monophyly of Viticoideae, but it is generally thought to be an unnatural group. The subfamily is probably diphyletic, with Premna, Gmelina, and Cornutia constituting one clade, and with Vitex, Petitia, Pseudocarpidium, and Teijsmanniodendron constituting the other.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
A genus of trees in the VERBENACEAE (sometimes classified in the LAMIACEAE) family containing assorted flavonoids with possible analgesic and antineoplastic properties. The fruit of these trees is used in herbal preparations.
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