Man Jing Zi
Botanical name: Vitex trifolia
Common name: Vitex fruit
Family: Verbenaceae, verbena family
Part used in Chinese medicine: fruit
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Disperses wind- heat, clears and benefits head and eyes,
Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 2: Vitex rotundifolia; 09/2008; author Dalgial; permission under GFDL
Vitex trifolia is more commonly known by its alternate botanical name Vitex rotundifolia. It is a perennial woody deciduous shrub native to the coastal regions and sand dunes of Asia and the Pacific Islands. It grows about 6-15 feet wide and 2-4 feet high with foliage that has a spicy fragrance when crushed. The upper surface of the rounded leaves are light green in color, while the lower surface is grayish white.
Growing and Propagation
The plant grows best in low elevations such as beaches, sand dunes and rocky shorelines, in full sun with sandy, well-drained soil. Bluish purple flowers bloom in May in small clusters at the ends of the branches, though they can bloom throughout the entire year in climates such as Hawaii. The fruits ripen in late summer and stay on the plant into the winter after the leaves dry and fall off in autumn. Vitex rotundifolia is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 10. It grows quickly and can become invasive in some coastal settings therefore is not recommended for cultivation in beach regions.
Propagation can be achieved by seed or cuttings. The seeds are difficult to remove from the fruit, but the entire fruit can be planted. Germination is slow, taking about 3 to 6 months. The fruits should be soaked for 48 hours to soften them before planting, though the germination medium should be kept somewhat dry. Cuttings may also be taken when the plants are not in flower or fruit by taking 4 inch long pieces of branch tips having have at least 2 nodes. With leaves removed, the cutting is then planted in rooting medium.
Harvesting and Preparation
For medicinal use, good quality Man Jing Zi consist of fruits that are large, full, and aromatic.