Vitex is a genus of about 250 species of climbers, shrubs and trees found mainly in tropical and sub-tropical areas, with 8 species native to Australia.
Beach vitex is a twining groundcover or low shrub up to about 0.5 metres high. The oval-shaped green-grey leaves are 2 to 5 cm long by 1 to 3.5 cm wide, velvety hairy on the lower surface. Blue or purple flowers occur in axillary or terminal clusters and may be seen at any month of the year. Flowers are followed by green or black drupes, about 5mm in diameter.
Vitex rotundifolia is a hardy groundcover for tropical and sub-tropical gardens for a sunny location. The plant spreads by developing roots at stem nodes and under ideal conditions can spread rapidly to 3-4 metres in diameter. It is tolerent coastal seaside conditions and will tolerate extended dry conditions once established. The spreading growth habit can lead to the plant becoming invasive if introduced to locations outside of its natural habitat (eg. coastal areas of the eastern USA).
This plant can be grown from seed which does not require pre-treatment. Cuttings also strike readily and plants can also be grown by detaching parts of the stems that have developed roots at the leaf nodes.
Photo: Brian Walters