Myrtus communis

Myrtus communis (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Myrtales
Familia: Myrtaceae
Subfamilia: Myrtoideae
Tribus: Myrteae
Genus: Myrtus
Species: Myrtus communis

Name

Myrtus communis L., Sp. Pl., 471. 1753.

Myrtus communis (*)

Synonyms

Heterotypic

* Myrtus acuta Mill., Gard. Dict., ed. 8 : n° 3. 1768.
* Myrtus acutifolia (L.) Sennen & Teodoro, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 14. 1929.
* Myrtus angustifolia (L.) Steud., Nomencl. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus augustinii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Malag, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 16. 1929.
* Myrtus augustinii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 12. 1929.
* Myrtus baetica (L.) Mill. ex Steud., Nomencl. Bot. 546h. 1821.
* Myrtus baetica var. minorifolia Malag. , in sched., nom. nud.
* Myrtus baui (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 13. 1929.
* Myrtus baui (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 9. 1929.
* Myrtus belgica (L.) Mill., Gard. Dict., ed. 8 : n° 2. 1768.
* Myrtus belgica (L.) Mill. ex Steud., Nom. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus boetica Mill., Gard. Dict., ed. 8 : n° 4. 1768.
* Myrtus borbonis Sennen, Ann. Soc. Linn. Lyon, sér. 2, 70 : 63. 1924.
* Myrtus briquetii Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 8. 1929.
* Myrtus burbonis Sennen in Ann. Soc. Linn. Lyon 2. 1926.
* Myrtus christinae (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 15. 1929.
* Myrtus christinae (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 11. 1929.
* Myrtus communis proles tarentina (L.) Rouy & E.G.Camus in Rouy, 1901
* Myrtus communis f. baetica (L.) Cout., Fl. Portugal 422. 1913.
* Myrtus communis f. belgica (L.) Cout., Fl. Portugal 422. 1913.
* Myrtus communis f. lusitanica (L.) Cout., Fl. Portugal 422. 1913.
* Myrtus communis f. tarentinus (L.) Cout., Fl. Portugal 422. 1913.
* Myrtus communis subsp. lusitanica (L.) Arcang., Comp. Fl. Ital. 258. 1882.
* Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina (L.) Nyman, Consp. Fl. Eur. 245. 1879.
* Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina (L.) Arcang., Comp. Fl. Ital. 258. 1882), comb. superfl.
* Myrtus communis var. acuminata Rouy & E.G.Camus
* Myrtus communis var. acutifolia L.
* Myrtus communis var. adrianii Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 88. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. alcovertii Barceló, Fl. Baleares 3: 216. 1979), nom. nud.
* Myrtus communis var. angustifolia L., Sp. Pl. 471. 1753.
* Myrtus communis var. augustinii Sennen & Teodoro (?)
* Myrtus communis var. baetica L., Sp. Pl. 471. 1753.
* Myrtus communis var. balearicus Sennen in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 13. 1929.
* Myrtus communis var. baui (Sennen & Malag.) Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 89. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. belgica L., Sp. Pl. 471. 1753.
* Myrtus communis var. bercialis Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 89. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. camboanus Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 90. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. campestris Welw. , in sched., nom. nud.
* Myrtus communis var. christinae Sennen & Teodoro (?)
* Myrtus communis var. eugeniae Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 90. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. foucaudii Sennen in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 13. 1929.
* Myrtus communis var. gallachii Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 89. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. gausseni Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 90. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. gibertii Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 88. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. grandifolia Sennen in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 13. 1929.
* Myrtus communis var. italica L., Sp. Pl. ed. 2 673. 1763.
* Myrtus communis var. jonssetii Sennen in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 13. 1929.
* Myrtus communis var. latifolia Willk. in Willk. & Lange, Prodr. Fl. Hispan. 3: 191. 1874.
* Myrtus communis var. leucocarpa DC., Prodr. 3: 239. 1828.
* Myrtus communis var. lusitanica L., Sp. Pl. ed. 2 674. 1763.
* Myrtus communis var. macrocarpa Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 89. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. melanocarpa DC., Prodr. 3: 239. 1828.
* Myrtus communis var. microphylla P. Palau ex Bonafè, Fl. Mallorca 3: 216. 1979, nom. nud.
* Myrtus communis var. microphylla Willk., Prodr. Fl. Hispan. (Willk. & Lange) 3: 191. 1874.
* Myrtus communis var. morawieskiana Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 90. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. mucronata L., Sp. Pl. 471. 1753.
* Myrtus communis var. neapolitana Sennen in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 13. 1929.
* Myrtus communis var. petri-ludovici Sennen & Teodoro (?)
* Myrtus communis var. rodesii Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 8. 1929.
* Myrtus communis var. romana L., Sp. Pl. 1:471. 1753
* Myrtus communis var. soleri Sennen in Bull. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. 32: 2. 1932.
* Myrtus communis var. sylvatica Welw. , in sched., nom. nud.
* Myrtus communis var. tarentina L., Sp. Pl. 471. 1753.
* Myrtus communis var. theodori Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 8. 1929.
* Myrtus eusebii Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 7. 1929.
* Myrtus gervasii Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 8. 1929.
* Myrtus italica (L.) Mill., Gard. Dict., ed. 8 : n° 5. 1768.
* Myrtus italica (L.) Mill. ex Steud., Nom. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus italica var. minorifolia Malag. , in sched., nom. nud.
* Myrtus josephii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 14. 1929.
* Myrtus josephii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 10. 1929.
* Myrtus latifolius (Willk.) Sennen in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 7. 1929.
* Myrtus littoralis Salisb., Prodr. : 353. 1796., nom. illeg.
* Myrtus lusitanica (L.) Willd. ex Steud., Nomencl. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus mirifolia Sennen & Malag., Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 9. 1929.
* Myrtus mirifolia Sennen & Teodoro, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 13. 1929.
* Myrtus mucronata (L.) Pers. ex Steud., Nom. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus petri-ludovicii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 15. 1929.
* Myrtus petri-ludovicii Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 11. 1929.
* Myrtus retusa Willk., Suppl. Prodr. Fl. Hispan. 219. 1893), nom. nud.
* Myrtus rodesii Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 10. 1929.
* Myrtus romana (L.) Mill. ex Steud., Nom. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus tarentina (L.) Mill. ex Steud., Nom. Bot. 546. 1821.
* Myrtus tarentina Bertol., Fl. Ital., 5 : 120. 1842, nom illeg. non Mill. ex Steud. (1821).
* Myrtus theodori (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 16. 1929.
* Myrtus theodori Sennen & Malag., Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 12. 1929.
* Myrtus veneris Bubani, Fl. Pyr., 2 : 639. 1899, nom. illeg.
* Myrtus vidalii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen, Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France, 1929 : 15. 1929.
* Myrtus vidalii (Sennen & Teodoro) Sennen & Malag. in Bull. Soc. Dendrol. France 12. 1929.


Notes

Sometimes the cultivated, dwarf growing Myrtus communis 'Tarentina' is given scientific status.

References

* Bruna, S., Mercuri, A., Cervelli, C., Braglia, L., De Benedetti, L. & Schiva, T. 2005. Genetic characterization of Myrtus communis L. wild genotypes using AFLP markers. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 683:431-436.

* Flore Electronique (2000-2009). Association Tela Botanica. Institut de Botanique, Montpellier. 2009 Sept 06 [1].

* Paiva, J. 1997. Myrtus. In S. Castroviejo & al. (eds.) Flora Iberica 8. Haloragaceae to Euphorbiaceae. CSIC. Real Jardín Botánico. Madrid. [2]

* USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. [3] (30 September 2009)

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Brautmyrte
Ελληνικά, Κυπριακά: Μύρτος η κοινή, Μερσινιά, Μυρτιά
English: Myrtle
Français: Myrte
Italiano: Mirto
Русский: мирт
Svenska: Myrten

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Myrtus (myrtle) is a genus of one or two species of flowering plants in the family Myrtaceae, native to southern Europe and north Africa. 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.

The common myrtle Myrtus communis, also called true myrtle, is widespread in the Mediterranean region and is 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.
Modern uses

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 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.[1]

Uses in myth and ritual

In Greek mythology and ritual the myrtle was sacred to the goddesses Aphrodite[2] 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.”[3] 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,[4] and of the victors at the Theban Iolaea, held in honour of the Theban hero Iolaus.[5]

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.”[6] 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) [7].

Ancient medicinal uses

Myrtle occupies a prominent place in the writings of Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Galen, and the Arabian writers.[8].

In numerous Mediterranean countries, the extract of the myrtle herb is used to make the hair grow longer in a short period of time.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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. 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).

Footnotes

1. ^ "Liquore di mirto" (in Italian). Italian Wikipedia. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquore_di_mirto. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
2. ^ V. Pirenne-Delforge, “Épithètes cultuelles et interpretation philosophique: à propos d’Aphrodite Ourania et Pandémos à Athènes.” AntCl 57 (1980::142-57) p. 413.
3. ^ Artemidorus, Oneirocritica, I.77. (translation of Hugh G. Evelyn-White).
4. ^ Aristophanes, The Frogs, the Iacchus chorus, 330ff.
5. ^ Pindar, Isthmian Ode IV.
6. ^ Virgil, Eclogue VII.61-63.
7. ^ List of plants in the Bible
8. ^ Pharmacographia Indica (1891 edition), London

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