Myrtle

From Academic Kids

Myrtle
Missing image
Myrtus_communis.jpg



Myrtus communis
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Myrtales
Family:Myrtaceae
Genus:Myrtus
Species

Myrtus communis L.
Myrtus nivellei Batt. & Trab.

The Myrtle (Myrtus) is a genus of one or two species of flowering plants in the family Myrtaceae, native to southern Europe and north Africa. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5 m tall. The leaves are entire, 3-5 cm long, with a pleasantly fragrant essential oil. The flowers have five petals and sepals, and an amazingly large number of stamens. Petals are usually white, with globose blue-black berries containing several seeds. The flowers are pollinated by insects, and the seeds dispersed by birds which feed on the berries.

The Common Myrtle Myrtus communis, is widespread in the Mediterranean region and is also by far the most commonly cultivated. The other species, Saharan Myrtle M. nivellei, is restricted to the Tassili n'Ajjer mountains in southern Algeria and the Tibesti Mountains in Chad, where it occurs in small areas of sparse relict woodland near the centre of the Sahara Desert; it is listed as an endangered species. However, some botanists are not convinced that M. nivellei is sufficiently distinct to be treated as a separate species.

Symbolism and uses

Missing image
Illustration_Myrtus_communis0.jpg
Common Myrtle (Myrtus communis) from Thomé, Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, 1885

The ancient Greeks considered the myrtle to be sacred to Venus.

The plants are grown for myrtle oil, used in perfume manufacture and as a condiment, and as ornamental shrubs used in xeriscaping, where they are valued for their tolerance of hot, dry summers. For example, M. communis thrives on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where the summer temperatures can reach 45°C. The beautifully mottled wood is used in turning.

On the Italian island of Sardinia, a digestive liqueur called mirto is made by macerating myrtle berries in alcohol.

Related plants

Many other related species native to South America, New Zealand and elsewhere, previously classified in a wider interpretation of the genus Myrtus, are now treated in other genera, Eugenia, Lophomyrtus, Luma, Rhodomyrtus, Syzygium, Ugni, and at least a dozen other genera.de:Myrte he:הדס it:Myrtus

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