Vitex Trifolia also known as Legundi in Indonesian, or simpleleaf chasetree in the west, is a coastal shrub. It grows on various coastal terrain such as sand, coral, gravel, or even mangrove forests. The plant grows in the tropics, and sub-tropics, from East Africa to Australia, and South East Asia. The plant requires both amble sunlight, and good drainage, making it perfect for sandy coastal areas. The shrub can grow up to 6m tall, though it doesn’t often grow above 3m. They grow in altitudes up 1100m above sea level.
Legundi has been used to fight against erosion on sand dunes. The leaves of the plant are burned as a way to repel insects and especially mosquitoes. Wood from the tree is also used to make handles for tools. This property has made it into a staple ingredient in our incense.
Medicinally the plant has not had much use in modern medicine, though traditional medicinal practices do utilise the plant quite heavily. Chinese traditional medicine especially uses the plant also known as Man Jing Zi in China. It is thought to help with fever, lowering blood pressure, and mucus expulsion. It is used to treat the common cold as well as rheumatism, sinusitis, and many more. The dried part of the fruit is what is often used for traditional Chinese medicinal practices.
In Malaysia the plant is used to treat headaches, and the plant is even used to treat leprosy. To create this concoction the leaves and root are collected then crushed. It is then strained as a juice, boiled and mixed with honey. As well as being taken orally it is also applied to the infected area. In India the crushed leaves are mixed with ghee and used to treat ringworm. For skin rashes the juice is squeezed out of the leaves and applied to the irritated area. It is even mixed in with curries in India and believed help treat blood pita.
When it comes to modern medicine so far the biggest success for Vitex trifolia has been in experimentation with mice, where a 50% ethanol extract of the plant was used. The experiment found potential anti-tumour properties, though nothing conclusive can be said about the plant right now. The reduction in tumour growth is in line with another study showing its ability to reduce cancer cell growth. The plant has also shown moderate anti-bacterial activity, although not as powerful as other plants we’ve discussed, it still has a lot of potential uses.
If this all sounds good to you, why not grow your own? The flowers aren’t just useful, but they are aromatic, and beautiful to boot. It’s purple flowers are an ideal fixture to brighten up your garden. To grow Legundi you will need moist soil with good drainage, or even sandy soil, ample sunlight is a must, so make sure it’s in fully exposed to the sun. The shrub is fast growing, and attracts butterflies, so really there no reason not to grow it…well unless you live in the wrong climate, that is an acceptable answer, but otherwise you have no excuse…well maybe if you don’t have a garden, but still, you should definitely grow it!