Myrtus communis
common myrtle

Myrtaceae (myrtle family)
Mediterranean, Iraq
Myrtus communis leaves, buds, flowers. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

The evergreen common myrtle is generally grown as a clipped hedge with neat, glossy dark-green opposite leaves, a little paler below, pointed at both ends, virtually stalkless, and about an inch long. Held to the light, the leaves show many small translucent dots containing oil whose fragrance is released by crushing. Leaves of the myrtle family are often characterized by fragrance.

The modest white flowers have lots of long, yellow-tipped stamens, while the elongated berries are blue-black, terminated in some remnants of the flower and containing many white kidney-shaped seeds. Hedges often do not have the chance to flower, but at 622 Salvatierra Street, on the corner with Valparaiso Street, a spreading, mature tree dating back to the early years of campus housing exhibits many trunks with papery bark in warm colors, reminiscent of its relative the melaleuca.

Name derivation: Myrtus – Greek name for the plant; communis – common, general.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.