Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

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MikeHardman

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Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« on: October 23, 2011, 09:50:50 PM »
While on a walk today, I discovered the best area for wild myrtle that I have seen so far.
I was interested to see that plants were in flower and fruit at the same time. Meikle (Flora of Cyprus, p.659) gives the flowering period as May-August.
The foliage had something of the effect of Dodonea viscosa, especially where it was being backlit by the sun.
I have just one myrtle in my garden, bought from the Forestry station nursery at Stavros tis Psokas, up in the Troodos Mts last winter. I think I will be buying some more.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 07:45:50 AM by MikeHardman »
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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John

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2011, 11:07:13 PM »
Have you ever seen the white berried form anywhere on the island. It is not common but occurs in scattered locations on Crete also in mixed populations.
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2011, 07:43:32 AM »
No John, but I will keep an eye out.

Meikle, Flora of Cyprus, p.600:
"The whitish-fruited M. communis L. var. leucocarpa DC. is found occasionally in cultivation (Syngrassides 1667!) and in the wild (Merton 2841!); apart from the fruits, it differs from the general run of Cyprus M. communis in having relatively broad, blunt leaves. It would be interesting to know if this distinction always holds good and if the two Myrtles can be identified in the absence of fruits."

So I will try to remember to look for broader leaves with blunt tips, too.
I don't suppose you have photos which you could check for that character, do you?
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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John J

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 08:14:58 AM »
John & Mike, we do have the white-berried variety here in Cyprus, though not common. Judge for yourselves regarding the leaf shape.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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MikeHardman

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 08:22:45 AM »
Oooh - thanks John.
Well, to me, those leaves do look a little broader. The leaf tips are not blunt; I suspect Meikle might have meant to imply that the tips were merely less pointed as a consequence of being broader.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Alisdair

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2011, 08:49:07 AM »
Nice picture, John. I have seen white-berried forms in cultivation (not on Cyprus) and as far as I remember they otherwise looked pretty typical - I'm sure I'd have noticed if the leaves were significantly blunter than normal, as then in my unskilled way I'd have thought I was looking at some completely different species that I hadn't seen before!











Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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Cali

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 08:52:01 AM »
Mike, That's amazing about the blossoms and berries coinciding. I don't think I've ever seen that... certainly not here in Corfu where they flower in June and have ripe berries in October. I've seen white berries on sbsp. Tarentinus, but thy're not a bright white, just sort of whiteish.
Something OT: About this time of year I collect the berries. I make a liqueur and a bread while they're fresh and use the dried ones for adding to meat stews.
Alisdair, this wouldn't be OT if we started a category of of Food from the Garden (and the wild) and possibly also traditional medicines. What do you think?
Cali Doxiadis
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Gardens in Corfu, Greece.

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Alisdair

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2011, 09:21:33 AM »
Cali, That's certainly an idea. We have been trying to keep the number of categories down, though (at the meeting on Mallorca two of the Californians, separately, indicated that for them there were too many already!). So for the moment I'll start a thread on Food From Unusual Plants, here, in the Vegetable Garden section, and link it to your post on using myrtle fruits. And maybe we'll do the same for medicines and remedies from plants, in Miscellaneous. (I think we'll also change the heading of that whole section to Fruit and Vegetables.)
Incidentally, we do sometimes get a flush of simultaneous flowers and fruits on myrtles in our gardens both here in UK and in Greece, and we did see one plant carrying both last week, I think on the optional trip to Menorca, but possibly on Isla Dragonera - neither Helena nor I can remember exactly where we saw it!
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 09:29:52 AM by Alisdair »
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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MikeHardman

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2011, 02:34:39 PM »
Saw a variegated cultivar in a garden centre in Paphos yesterday; quite nice.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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MikeHardman

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis var. leucantha)
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 09:29:18 PM »
John, further to your photo of the white-berried var. leucantha...
I found the same cultivar in Polis today; a fair sized shrub, over 2m tall, covered in those berries.
I, like you, can't say I'm convinced about the leaves being broader than the typical species.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

David Bracey

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 09:56:58 PM »
Myrtus communis makes a very good low growing hedge when trimmed.
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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John

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2011, 11:28:26 PM »
There's bound to be some natural variation given the wide distribution of the species. The leucocarpa form occurs sporadically through wild populations and therefor I think it more than likely there will be just as much variation in all of this form.
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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John J

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 08:01:40 AM »
Georgios Hadjikyriakou in his book 'Aromatic and Spicy Plants in Cyprus' states that the white-berried var leucocarpa also occurs in the wild and is often cultivated as its fruits are larger and very tasty.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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MikeHardman

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 08:31:04 AM »
Interesting, John - I might have to snaffle a few to try them.
I note the leaves are also edible - you can pretty much eat the whole bush. ...Which is a nice change from some of the plants being discussed on the forum recently, where it seemed almost every one you looked into showed-up as being toxic in some part or other.
http://www.theworldwidegourmet.com/products/herbs/myrtle/
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 09:03:46 AM »
David, I find myrtle ridiculously difficult to grow - it sulks, it dies back, it has an ugly habit. Not one has even grown waist high in 5 years. An myrtle hedge would be an impossibility. Maybe it needs good soil?
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 01:41:52 PM by Fleur Pavlidis »
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece