Myrtus communis

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Myrtus communis
Starr 080304-3229 Myrtus communis.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Myrtus
M. communis
Binomial name
Myrtus communis
    • Myrtus acuta Mill.
    • Myrtus acutifolia (L.) Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus angustifolia Raf. nom. illeg.
    • Myrtus augustini Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus aurantiifolia Grimwood nom. illeg.
    • Myrtus baetica (L.) Mill.
    • Myrtus baui Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus belgica (L.) Mill.
    • Myrtus borbonis Sennen
    • Myrtus briquetii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus christinae (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus eusebii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus gervasii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus italica Mill.
    • Myrtus josephi Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus lanceolata Raf. nom. illeg.
    • Myrtus latifolia Raf. nom. illeg.
    • Myrtus littoralis Salisb.
    • Myrtus macrophylla J.St.-Hil.
    • Myrtus major Garsault nom. inval.
    • Myrtus media Hoffmanns.
    • Myrtus microphylla J.St.-Hil.
    • Myrtus minima Mill.
    • Myrtus minor Garsault nom. inval.
    • Myrtus mirifolia Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus oerstedeana O.Berg
    • Myrtus petri-ludovici (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus rodesi Sennen & Teodoro
    • Myrtus romana (L.) Hoffmanns.
    • Myrtus romanifolia J.St.-Hil.
    • Myrtus sparsifolia O.Berg
    • Myrtus theodori Sennen
    • Myrtus veneris Bubani
    • Myrtus vidalii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Teodoro

Myrtus communis, the common myrtle or true myrtle, is a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family Myrtaceae. It is an evergreen shrub native to southern Europe, North Africa, Western Asia, Macaronesia, and the Indian Subcontinent, and also cultivated. It is also sometimes known as Corsican pepper.[2]

The medicinal properties of Myrtus communis were utilized as early as 600 B.C.E. Symbolically and ritually important in ancient times, it was used to represent honor, justice, prosperity, generosity, hope, love, and happiness. In Greco-Roman mythology, numerous gods were associated with the common myrtle and its flowers, such as Aphrodite and Demeter. Also a key part of various Jewish traditions, it is one of the four species used in the festival of Sukkot, and the Bible records its use in purification ceremonies. As a shrub that thrives along waterways, it was also seen as a symbol of restoration and recovery.[3]

In Europe during the Renaissance, it came to be best known as a symbol of love, which led to the ongoing tradition of the flower as part of the wedding bouquet.

For uses and further historical significance, see Myrtus.


The plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5 metres (16 ft) tall.[4] The leaves are 2–5 centimetres (1–2 in) long, with a fragrant essential oil.[4]

The flowers are white or tinged with pink, with five petals and many stamens that protrude from the flower.[4] The fruit is an edible berry, blue-black when ripe.[4]

The essential oils derived from this plant have anti-proliferative and anti-quorum sensing properties, helping against food spoilage.[5] Myrtus communis berries are also macerated in alcohol to make Mirto liqueur.

This species[6] and the more compact M. communis subsp. tarentina[7] have won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[8] They are hardy but prefer a sheltered position in full sun.

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 13 August 2016
  2. ^ USDA GRIN Taxonomy, retrieved 13 August 2016
  3. ^ Wright, Emily (Oct 27, 2020). "The Ancient Oils Collection" (podcast). Essential Oil Solutions. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Cretan Flora: An illustrated guide to the flora of Crete, retrieved 13 August 2016
  5. ^ Myszka, Kamila; Sobieszczańska, Natalia; Olejnik, Anna; Majcher, Małgorzata; Szwengiel, Artur; Wolko, Łukasz; Juzwa, Wojciech (June 2020). "Studies on the anti-proliferative and anti-quorum sensing potentials of Myrtus communis L. essential oil for the improved microbial stability of salmon-based products". LWT. 127: 109380. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2020.109380.
  6. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Myrtus communis". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  7. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  8. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 64. Retrieved 10 April 2018.