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Botanical Name : Myrtus communis
Common Names: Myrtle
Parts Used: Leaf and berries
Common Names: Myrtle, Foxtail Myrtle
Habitat :Myrtus communis is native to S. Europe to W. Asia. Woodland Garden It grows on the sunny Edge; Hedge; Scrub, avoiding calcareous soils
Myrtus communis an evergreen shrub growing to 4.5 m (14ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.Myrtus (myrtle) is a genus of one or two species of flowering plants The plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5 m tall. The leaf is entire, 3–5 cm long, with a fragrant essential oil. The star-like flower has five petals and sepals, and numerous stamens. Petals usually are white. The fruit is a round blue-black berry containing several seeds. The flower is pollinated by insects, and the seeds are dispersed by birds that eat the berries.
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Myrtle is cultivated as an ornamental garden shrub, particularly for its numerous flowers in later summer. It may be clipped to form a hedge.
It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil.The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
Succeeds in any reasonably good soil so long as it is well-drained. Prefers a moderately fertile well-drained neutral to alkaline loam in a sunny position. Succeeds in dry soils. A very ornamental plant, when fully dormant it is hardy to between -10 and -15°c, so long as it is sheltered from cold drying winds, though it does withstand quite considerable maritime exposure. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. This species does not succeed outdoors in the colder parts of Britain. A moderately fast-growing plant when young but soon slowing with age. There are a number of named varieties. ‘Tarentina’ with narrow small leaves is hardier than the type and is especially wind-resistant, ‘Microphylla’ is a dwarf form and ‘Leucocarpa‘ has white berries. Myrtle is often cultivated in the Mediterranean, where the plant is regarded as a symbol of love and peace and is much prized for use in wedding bouquets. The foliage is strongly aromatic. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow it in late winter in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up in the autumn and overwinter in a cold frame. Plant out in late spring. High percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, 7 – 12cm with a heel, November in a shaded and frost free frame. Plant out in late spring or early autumn. High percentage. Layering.
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit.
Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit has an aromatic flavour, it can be eaten fresh when ripe or can be dried and is then used as an aromatic food flavouring, especially in the Middle East. It can also be made into an acid drink. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter. The leaves are used as a flavouring in cooked savoury dishes. The dried fruits and flower buds are used to flavour sauces, syrups etc. An essential oil from the leaves and twigs is used as a condiment, especially when mixed with other spices. In Italy the flower buds are eaten. The flowers have a sweet flavour and are used in salads.
Medicinal Uses :
Antibiotic; Antiseptic; Aromatic; Astringent; Balsamic; Carminative; Haemostatic; Tonic.
Common Uses: Bladder Infection (UTI) Cystitis * Bronchitis *
Properties: AntiViral* Astringent* Antibacterial* Astringent* Cardic tonic Cordial* Carminative* Antirheumatic* Rubefacient* Stimulant* Stomachic* Aromatic*
The leaves are aromatic, balsamic, haemostatic and tonic. Recent research has revealed a substance in the plant that has an antibiotic action. The active ingredients in myrtle are rapidly absorbed and give a violet-like scent to the urine within 15 minutes. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of urinary infections, digestive problems, vaginal discharge, bronchial congestion, sinusitis and dry coughs. In India it is considered to be useful in the treatment of cerebral affections, especially epilepsy. Externally, it is used in the treatment of acne (the essential oil is normally used here), wounds, gum infections and haemorrhoids. The leaves are picked as required and used fresh or dried. An essential oil obtained from the plant is antiseptic. It contains the substance myrtol – this is used as a remedy for gingivitis. The oil is used as a local application in the treatment of rheumatism. The fruit is carminative. It is used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, internal ulceration and rheumatism.
The plant is powerfully antiseptic owing to the myrtol it contains and it has good astringent properties. In medicine the leaves were used for their stimulating effect on the mucous membranes, and for the chest pains and dry coughs of consumptive people.
It is used in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica to produce an aromatic liqueur called “Mirto” by macerating it in alcohol. Mirto is known as one of the most typical drinks of Sardinia and comes in two varieties: “Mirto Rosso” (red) produced by macerating the berries, and “Mirto Bianco” (white) produced from the leaves.
Ancient medicinal uses
Myrtle occupies a prominent place in the writings of Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Galen, and the Arabian writers.
In numerous Mediterranean countries, the extract of the myrtle herb is used to make the hair grow longer in a short period of time.
Although this plant is mentioned regularly in European mythology, there are few traditional medicinal uses recorded. However, anyone who has ever used it to improve a respiratory condition will sing its praises and never overlook it again. The fresh, clear aroma of this oil is excellent at clearing the airways, and as it is considered safe for young and old alike has many uses for the working aromatherapist.
Uses in myth and ritual :
In Greek mythology and ritual the myrtle was sacred to the goddesses Aphrodite and also Demeter: Artemidorus asserts that in interpreting dreams “a myrtle garland signifies the same as an olive garland, except that it is especially auspicious for farmers because of Demeter and for women because of Aphrodite. For the plant is sacred to both goddesses.” Pausanias explains that one of the Graces in the sanctuary at Elis holds a myrtle branch because “the rose and the myrtle are sacred to Aphrodite and connected with the story of Adonis, while the Graces are of all deities the nearest related to Aphrodite.” Myrtle is the garland of Iacchus, according to Aristophanes, and of the victors at the Theban Iolaea, held in honour of the Theban hero Iolaus.
In Rome, Virgil explains that “the poplar is most dear to Alcides, the vine to Bacchus, the myrtle to lovely Venus, and his own laurel to Phoebus.” At the Veneralia, women bathed wearing crowns woven of myrtle branches, and myrtle was used in wedding rituals.
In the Mediterranean, myrtle was symbolic of love and immortality. In their culture the plant was used extensively and was considered an essential plant.
In pagan and wicca rituals, myrtle is commonly associated with and sacred to Beltane (May Day).
In Jewish liturgy, it is one of the four sacred plants of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles representing the different types of personality making up the community – the myrtle having fragrance but not pleasant taste, represents those who have good deeds to their credit despite not having knowledge from Torah study. Three branches are held by the worshippers along with a citron, a palm leaf, and two willow branches. In Jewish mysticism, the myrtle represents the phallic, masculine force at work in the universe. For this reason myrtle branches were sometimes given the bridegroom as he entered the nuptial chamber after a wedding (Tos. Sotah 15:8; Ketubot 17a). Myrtles are both the symbol and scent of Eden (BhM II: 52; Sefer ha-Hezyonot 17). The Hechalot text Merkavah Rabbah requires one to suck on a myrtle leaves as an element of a theurgic ritual. Kabbalists link myrtle to the sefirah of Tiferet and use sprigs in their Shabbat (especially Havdalah) rites to draw down its harmonizing power as the week is initiated (Shab. 33a; Zohar Chadash, SoS, 64d; Sha’ar ha-Kavvanot, 2, pp. 73–76)
Charcoal; Essential; Hedge; Hedge.
The plant is very tolerant of regular clipping and can be grown as a hedge in the milder parts of Britain. An essential oil from the bark, leaves and flowers is used in perfumery, soaps and skin-care products. An average yield of 10g of oil is obtained from 100 kilos of leaves. A perfumed water, known as “eau d’ange”, is obtained from the flowers. A high quality charcoal is made from the wood. Wood – hard, elastic, very fine grained. Used for walking sticks, tool handles, furniture etc.
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. The name “myrtle” is also used to refer to unrelated plants in several other genera: “Crape myrtle” (Lagerstroemia, Lythraceae), “Wax myrtle” (Morella, Myricaceae), and “Myrtle” or “Creeping myrtle” (Vinca, Apocynaceae).
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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