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Products > Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea'
Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea' - Arabian Lilac
Image of Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Lavender
Bloomtime: Summer/Winter
Synonyms: [V. trifoliata var. purpurea, V. ' Fascination']
Height: 12-14 feet
Width: 10-15 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea' (Arabian Lilac) A very fast growing evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub or small tree to 10 to 15 feet tall by as wide with distinctively colored leaves sometimes but not always divided into three elliptical leaflets that are a gray-green on the upper surface but upturned to display the showy velvety purple below. The leaves give off a peppery scent when crushed and drop as they age as fresh new ones emerge. This plant can go deciduous after a cold frost but leafs back out rapidly. In summer through fall into winter (seemingly year-round here in Santa Barbara) appear the delicate small lavender purple flowers in 10 inch long panicles at the branch tips followed by small rounded berries that are first a pale yellow but darken with age. Plant in full to part sun and give occasional irrigation - fairly drought tolerant along the coast once established but may require more water inland. Evergreen to around 28F, stem hardy to around 25F and root hardy to at least to 20 F so useful in USDA zones 9 and above but also grown as an annual or protected perennial in other areas of the county. It is also tolerant of windy conditions and inland heat. Arabian Lilac is an attractive and durable specimen shrub, informal large hedge, small tree or decorative container plant that looks great year round and attracts butterflies and honeybees to the garden. It grows fast and gets big so give substantial room and trim back occasionally to promote flushes of new growth. The species has an interestingly wide distribution from along coastlines from Tropical East Africa east through Asia, Indonesia to French Polynesia, all the way out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and south through much of Australia, where it is called Blue Vitex. The name for the genus was authored by Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum in 1753 and comes from the name used by Roman philosopher naturalist Pliny the Elder for the Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus-castus from the Latin word 'vieo' which means "to weave" or "to tie" in reference to the use of the use of fresh shoots of this species for basket weaving. The specific epithet is in reference to the compound leaves with three leaflets. Another common name for this plant is Fascination. This plant, also known as Vitex trifoliata var. purpurea or Vitex ' Fascination' seemed virtually unknown in the California nursery trade prior to 2002, but now is one of the most common plant identification requests that we get. There is a nice planting of it in Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden in downtown Santa Barbara. 

This information about Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.