Chaste Tree

(Vitex agnus-castus) The "chaste" of the common name is the Latin castus, Sometimes the shrub is called Chaste Willow (Pomet), "willow" because of the pliant branches, used in basketry, and particularly for bee-skeps (Mabberley).

There is a suggestion that the leaves may be contraceptive; certainly Dioscorides said so, and Pomet's comment on the name agnus-castus is equally explicit: "and the name of Agnus Castus, because the Athenian ladies who were willing to preserve their Chastity, when there were Places consecrated to the Goddess Ceres, made their beds of the Leaves of this Shrub, on which they lay; but it is by way of ridicule that the name of Agnus Castus is now given to this seed, since it is commonly made use of in the Cure of venereal Cases, or to assist those who have violated, instead of preserv'd, their Chastity". But it was still used by Athenian women as a symbol of chastity in religious rites. And for that reason it became also a symbol of indifference (Pomet).

Chelidonium majus > GREATER CELANDINE

Chenopodium album > FAT HEN

Chenopodium ambrosioides > AMERICAN WORM-SEED

Chenopodium bonus-henricus > GOOD KING HENRY

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