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Myrtle Myrtus communis

Description

An award-winning specimen, Common myrtle is an evergreen shrub in the Myrtacae (myrtle) family. Ancient civilizations used the leaves for medicinal and culinary purposes.  The showy white blooms were a symbol of love.  This symbol continued as the Common myrtle was introduced in England during the 16th century and can still be found in British wedding bouquets.  

Although it can grow over time to reach heights and widths of up to 12', the typical range will be 5-6' tall and wide.   It can be grown as both a large shrub or a small tree.  Some varieties are grown as a bonsai.

For the best performance, provide a loamy compost.  It will adapt to both clay and sandy soils.

Most parts of the plant have culinary uses.  The berries that follow the flowers are edible.  Fruits, flowers and leaves when dried are used as a food flavoring.  The leaves are also used as a bay leaf substitute.  Some even use the wood to flavor meats.  When added to a charcoal grill, the wood will add a mild flavor to your BBQ.

Oils obtained from the bark, flowers and leaves are used in the production of skin care products.

Very resistant to honey fungus.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insure proper drainage to prevent root rot.  Scale, spider mites and thrips are insects that can damage this plant during hot, dry weather.

When grown indoors, scale, mealybug or whitefly can occur when the conditions include a warm room with low light and moisture.

Young spring growth can be damaged by a late frost.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Buxifolia'
    Low growing dwarf with small leaves.
  • 'Compacta'
    Dwarf variety.
  • 'Compacta Variegata'
    Yellow to white variegated foliage.
  • 'Leucocarpa'
    White berries.
  • 'Microphylla'
    Dwarf form
  • 'Nana'
    Small leaves, grown to 5'.
  • 'Tarentina'
    Compact, bushy variety.
  • 'Tarentina Variegata'
    Pale yellow leaves with green streaks.
'Buxifolia', 'Compacta', 'Compacta Variegata', 'Leucocarpa', 'Microphylla', 'Nana', 'Tarentina', 'Tarentina Variegata'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#fragrant leaves#frost tender#low maintenance#winter interest#erosion control#deer resistant#glossy leaves#long lifespan#edible fruits#evergreen shrub#sensory garden#winter garden#container plants#shade intolerant#edible
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Buxifolia'
    Low growing dwarf with small leaves.
  • 'Compacta'
    Dwarf variety.
  • 'Compacta Variegata'
    Yellow to white variegated foliage.
  • 'Leucocarpa'
    White berries.
  • 'Microphylla'
    Dwarf form
  • 'Nana'
    Small leaves, grown to 5'.
  • 'Tarentina'
    Compact, bushy variety.
  • 'Tarentina Variegata'
    Pale yellow leaves with green streaks.
'Buxifolia', 'Compacta', 'Compacta Variegata', 'Leucocarpa', 'Microphylla', 'Nana', 'Tarentina', 'Tarentina Variegata'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#fragrant leaves#frost tender#low maintenance#winter interest#erosion control#deer resistant#glossy leaves#long lifespan#edible fruits#evergreen shrub#sensory garden#winter garden#container plants#shade intolerant#edible
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Myrtus
    Species:
    communis
    Family:
    Myrtaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northern Africa, southwestern Asia, southern Europe
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to the berries. Its flowers will attract bees.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Buffer
    Defines Paths
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Screening
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    The fruits are edible.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Purplish-black berries will appear after the flowers are no longer blooming. Although edible, the taste isn't very flavorful.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Radial
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The showy white flowers with numerous yellow stamens.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The small evergreen leaves give off beautiful fragrance when crushed. The upper side is a dark glossy green, while the underside is a lighter green with transparent dots.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Bark Description:
    As a plant ages, the bark peels and becomes furrowed and thickens.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat