HORNBEAM (Vitex agnus – casus L.)
For its gentle colours, the Greeks considered it as a symbol of purity and innocence, and its name in Latin translation could be interpreted as a "virgin lamb". The hornbeam is a dense bush with a thick crown and can grow up to 3 meters. It blooms from July to September, and is recognizable by light-purple, pink or white flowers in the form of elongated clusters hanging from the top of its delicate branches. Its fruit is a fleshy gray stone fruit.
It grows in damp places, along the shores of streams, lakes and the sea, which explains its prevalence in the coastal region of Dalmatia. Its brushwood was once used to make baskets, and the flower served as an anaphrodisiac to quell the libido. It attracts bees for its nectar, and the honey they produce is white, slightly greenish and very tasty.
The seeds are a bit hot and can be used as a substitute for pepper. They are also prepared for the treatment of menstrual problems and infertility. It is believed that stems and leaves reduce sexual lust. Even the friars cultivated it in order to reduce passion and avoid temptation.