The genus Myrtus contains two species M. communis and M. nivellei. M. communis is a bushy medium sized shrub (1) reaching heights of one to three meters. It has shiny lance-shaped or oval leaves which are pointed at the tip. The leaves are arranged oppositely or sometimes alternately (2). It has white flowers which are made up of five petals and numerous stamens. The fruits produced are one centimetre in length and resemble small olives (2). They are black, rarely white and contain many seeds. The plant has a delicate characteristic aroma (2).
Myrtus communis is an evergreen plant (2) and its flowers open mid to late summer (1). It grows quickly when it is young, but growth rate slows with age (1).
It is common in lower mountain environments (2). It prefers cool, shady, sheltered situations (1), torrent beds and places of moisture (2). The soils it prefers are neutral to alkaline and although it likes moist areas, the soil must also be well drained (1).
Myrtus communis is a native to the Mediterranean region (3).
Description written by Amy Trayler (2009)
(1) Wild Chicken (2006) Myrtus communis [online] Available:
http://www.wildchicken.com/nature/garden/nature_200_152.htm [date accessed: 11/05/2009]
(2) Sfikas. G. (2001) Trees and Shrubs of Greece, Efstathiadis Group S.A., Greece
(3) BBC Gardening (2009) Common Myrtle [online] Available:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plant_finder/plant_pages/557.shtml [date accessed: 11/05/2009]